Luren Dickinson

From the Director 7/2014

Bold predictions are often wrong, but they do tell us where people “think” things are going. Recently, we have read and heard much about eBooks and their use on digital devices, such as tablets and smartphones. This has led to discussion about the impact of technology on the use of public libraries.

According to a BBC report, eBooks will outsell print books by the year 2018. Others, however, feel that the growth in eBook sales will soon begin to decline worldwide as it already has begun to do in the United States.

It is interesting to note that the number of eBooks borrowed from the Shaker Library grew annually by 38% in 2009 (the first year we included the statistics with our traditional figures), 43% in 2010, 66% in 2011, and reached a peak of 71% in 2012. The growth rate fell to 41% in 2013 and we are at a 33% pace year-to-date through June 2014.

The bottom line is that even double-digit growth in eBook circulation from such small beginnings—we did not exceed 10,000 checkouts until 2011—has not really made an impact upon our overall numbers. So far in 2014, eBooks make up less than 4% of all items checked out. A random survey of some similar-sized public libraries in Ohio show no more than a 4% to 8% share of total circulation for downloadable material.

Part of the problem is the limitation on eBook access placed upon libraries by the publishing industry. Some materials are either not available to public libraries or have been priced out of the library market. And even the eBooks that libraries offer can be difficult to download because of copyright restrictions and vendor imposed “hoops” (as with Amazon Kindle material).

In our community, we have some who can afford their devices of choice and find it faster and more convenient to buy whatever they want rather than to struggle borrowing from the library or putting their names on a waiting list. At the other end of the spectrum, we have those who might not be able to purchase devices and who might be more interested in audio/visual entertainment they can access via cable TV or Redbox machine.

Another prediction says that by the year 2018 the viewing of TV programs and videos will account for 84 percent of Internet traffic with a volume that is two to three times higher than in 2013. Internet video already accounts for 78% of online use (and includes such things as on-demand movies via cable).

A third prediction says that online access via PC will drop from the 86% level of 2013 to 50% in 2018. 21% of the traffic will be through smartphones and 18% from tablets, up from 5% and 3%, respectively, last year! Is it any wonder, then, that overall circulation at public libraries continues to drop? Among libraries of similar size in Ohio, virtually all are seeing circulation decline in the range of 6% to 12% over last year. A few libraries may have modest increases, but that is due to an old building being reopened or a new location coming online this year.

In most cases, door counts have gone hand-in-hand with circulation loss, but at Shaker Library we continue to see increased computer use. Main Library is 14% ahead of 2013 YTD and Bertram Woods, even with 23% less hours available, is almost 1% ahead, for a combined 12% increase. We are living in a changing world and it will be interesting to track the progression of that change over the next several months and years!

From the Director 6/2014

The problem with the weather, as the saying goes, is that everybody talks about it, but nobody does anything about it! The same could be said about the so-called “achievement gap” in the schools. Politicians want to pour more money into “education” to “level the playing field” for certain groups of students defined by socioeconomic status, race/ethnicity and gender. In Ohio, we now have the “Third Grade Reading Guarantee.”

What is it that causes some to do better in school than others? Almost everyone agrees that the key is to start early—very early! Children need to be talked and read to from the very beginning. Give them plastic books they can chew on and then board books with pages they can turn—and take them to the Shaker Library!

The Library and Family Connections operate the “Play and Learn Station,” for preschool children, their parents and caregivers, where children learn by playing in a variety of interactive settings with other children. We offer regular story times including, “Nestlings” for babies from birth to 15 months, “Fledglings” for 15 to 24 month-old toddlers, “Terrific Twos” for two-year-olds, and “Stories for 3-, 4-, and 5-year-olds.” From June 16 through July 22, we offer a “Baby Summer Sampler” for babies from birth through 23 months.

Once children reach school age, there are many more opportunities for educational enrichment. We host a variety of book parties for different grade levels and other book-related activities, such as the American Girl Doll series (for grades 1 to 5) and a Writer’s Club (for grades 2 to 4). In addition, we have provided free Homework Help after school through MyCOM grants (for grades 2 to 8) for a number of years during the school year. Our popular “Read to a Dog” events provide school-age children the opportunity to practice their reading skills with a furry, friendly certified Therapy Dog that loves listening to stories!

One of the most important things a child can do to improve educational achievement is to participate in the Summer Reading Program. Educators agree that to be successful, children must be exposed early to language and reading. Just as important, however, is that they must not fall behind during the summer when they are out of school. The sure cure for “Summer Reading Loss” is our “Summer Reading Program,” which is designed to encourage young readers by offering prizes as reading incentives. This year’s summer reading theme is “Get Creative—Read!” Beginning June 11 through August 6, children can earn prizes by listening to someone read to them and by reading or listening to books themselves. Prizes include colorful stickers, modeling dough, watercolor paint sets, design-your-own paint smocks, books, and medals thanks to our Friends of the Library which underwrites the programs and prizes.

Teens have their own summer reading program with weekly prize drawings for $10 gift cards and a grand prize drawing at the end of the summer for a Kindle Fire HDX! The number of hours read or listened to must be logged each week by 9 pm Wednesdays to qualify for the weekly drawings and reading for each ten hours earns a teen a ticket for the grand prize drawing.

Adults can model good reading behavior by participating in the Adult Summer Reading Program. Register at the Reference desks at either library or online at www.shakerlibrary.org and log your reading time to be eligible to win a Kindle Fire.

We can help close the “achievement gap” and help children meet the “Third Grade Reading Guarantee” by getting them involved early in reading and other learning at the Library, and by helping them maintain and improve their skills through the Summer Reading Program! Get Creative—READ!