Message to the community from Luren E. Dickinson:
In this age of expanding technology, books can often be the forgotten part of library operations, especially in academic libraries where the majority of students seek electronic access to information. This shift has been less dramatic in public libraries, where books still account for approximately half of the material checked out by our customers. Despite the fact that the use of nonprint materials has been growing faster than the use of print materials, surveys show that the first thing most people think of when they hear the word “library” is books!
“Perceptions of Libraries and Information Resources” (OCLC, 2005), “Across all regions surveyed, respondents
associate libraries first and foremost with ‘books.’ There is no runner-up.”
The study further notes that, “‘Books’ is the library brand.” As part of
its strategic planning process, the Shaker Library Board of Trustees has put
“books” back into our library’s mission statement:
“Shaker Heights Public Library provides an extraordinary range of
books and other resources and activities for a lifetime of enrichment
and enjoyment that exemplifies the inclusive ideals of our community.”
Shaker Library may be one of the few libraries anywhere that uses the word, book, in its mission statement. Does this make us old fashioned? Not really. Books are as popular as ever. Every year more and more titles are published, and we have not yet seen a technology to take the place of books, which are meant to be read from cover to cover.
A recent report in the New York Times indicated that although online sales have shown significant growth over the years, this “growth has slowed sharply in major sectors like books, tickets and office supplies.” In the same report, one middle-aged consumer spoke of improvements seen in bookstores. “They’re not as stuffy. The lighting is better. You don’t get someone behind the counter who’s been there 40 years. They’re younger and hipper and much more with it.” We hope that Shaker Library is showing some of those same positive features.
Recently, I attended the annual Book Expo America in New York City, which drew a record number of librarians, booksellers and publishers. One of the librarians who spoke was Leslie Burger, President of the American Library Association and Director of the Princeton Public Library in New Jersey. She encouraged librarians to “be on top of what people are reading” and related that they “need to refocus on their core business of books” (Library Hotline, June 11, 2007, p. 4). Rest assured that Shaker Library has always had its focus on books and reaffirms that focus in our new mission statement.
Luren E. Dickinson,