From the Director – 9/13

Message to the Community from Luren E. Dickinson:

What do film director Oliver Stone, bestselling British crime writer Mark Billingham, Food Channel star Giada de Laurentis, Freakonomics author Steven Leavitt, Mayor Rahm Emmanuel, novelist AnnPatchett, former SNL star Julia Sweeney, Khaled Hosseini of Kite Runner fame, and autistic savant Temple Grandin have in common?   They were all featured speakers at the American Library Association’s annual conference this summer in Chicago.  This “guest list” is reflective of the fact that libraries offer a wide perspective on a variety of topics.

September is National Library Card Signup Month—an important time to take advantage of our free services that offer so much.  We are gratified to see that our registrations are up more than 10% so far this year overall and 24% for adults.  We hope that the numbers for children will do a bit better as we get into the school year.

Because of the digital age in which we live, we have seen physical visits and checkouts drop slightly, but the use of eBooks has continued to grow at a double-digit pace as has access to our website, catalog, and other online resources.  Three years ago, electronic material did not represent even 1% of our total checkouts.  This year we will come close to the 3% level.

Some have predicted that physical books may not be displaced in ten years, but there is a good chance that virtual materials will be predominant in twenty.  We only have to look to our own local Plain Dealernewspaper, which ceased daily home delivery just last month, to see how publications are migrating to online formats.  But, unless you have a home subscription, you will have to come to the Library to view the Plain Dealer e-edition!

Speaking of electronic, in-library access, our public computer workstations continue to draw growing numbers of individuals who need to look for jobs, pay bills, do research or just keep up with what is happening.  Every year for the past decade has been a new record for computer use and we are on track for another record in 2013 with a 4.5% year-to-date increase.

“Banned Books Week” is another library tradition that takes place this time of year, from September 22-28, as we celebrate the controversial materials which highlight the fact that public libraries do not shy away from providing items from a variety of different viewpoints. The great American novel, Huckleberry Finn; the bestselling modern novel To Kill a Mockingbird; and even the Harry Potter series have all been targets of censorship.  Take up the challenge and read a “banned” book this year!

Remember, too, we have all many free program opportunities available for children, teens, and adults.  There are so many subjects you will have to go to to see the details.  There are multiple knitting and chess programs, you can listen to the history of the Rapid on September 10, learn what it is like to hike the Appalachian Trail on September 12, join in the annual Constitution Read Aloud on September 17, hear from local author Paula Chen on September 18, and choose between genealogical surname research tips or an architectural walking tour of nearby Winslow Road on September 28. In addition, there are regular story time activities for toddlers and preschoolers, as well as other interesting programs geared to school age children and teens.  If you do not have a library card or yours is expired, now is the time to register for one!

Luren Dickinson