Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Books as prescriptions

Avid readers have known for a long time that books can have a profound effect upon a person.  They can, in fact, be life changing.  It seems that doctors in the UK are agreeing.  The Smithsonian Magazine reports in their article "Doctors Are Now Prescribing Books to Treat Depression" that UK doctors are prescribing books for depression.  It seems to be limited to self-help books such as "Mind Over Mood" and "Overcoming Depression." 

Currently there are no hard statistics to support 'bibliotherapy', but it will be interesting to see any forthcoming results.  Is this a partnership that we could develop by working with doctors and counselors to recommend library books and databases?  It does not have to be limited to depression.

Speaking of which, do you have a favorite book to read when you are depressed?

What does your library space say?

In a time of library doomsayers, it is good to read an article that highlights the importance of libraries in today’s tech dependent world.  “Saving Our Public Libraries in a Paperless World” was posted on the blog Simplicity 2.0, and it has been making its way around on social media. The article discusses that while more and more information is going digital, people still feel that libraries are an important source of information. 

What really struck me though was the graphic that they reproduced from the Pew Report “How important are these library services to you and your family?”  The service that ranked number two (after books and media) was “Having a quiet, safe place.”  I would add welcoming to that.   

While we would all love to have huge budgets, it does not take major renovations or even a lot of money to be able to make our libraries welcoming and safe places.  There are several small things that we can do to achieve this goal.  While many of these have been said before, they bear repeating.
  • Excellent customer service: This goes to make the library welcoming.  Liberate yourself from the stereotype of a shushing librarian and smile! Don't be afraid to go above and beyond. Offer that little bit of extra help and view it from the library users perspective instead of forcing them to use the library like we think it should be used.
  • Signage: Does all you signage say no, don't do this?  Get rid of all the signs you can, and reword what you have as positive.  Michaels Stephens has spoken about this quite a bit on his blog Taming the Web
  • Enforce your Code of Conduct: This one may seem a bit basic, but if people are being loud and obnoxious, address it!  It can be intimidating for other customers, and they do not feel safe.
  • Merchandising: Encourage people to browse and linger.  You can do this with face-out displays on shelving. These are some of my attempts. 

  • Create seating areas:  I would live to have space between our shelves to place chairs for greater browsing.  Since we do not, we create seating areas on the floor.  Take a look at your local Barnes and Noble sometimes, and try to find an empty seat.  It can be a challenge.
  • Try to have quiet and loud areas: We are fortunate to have space for this.  We have a large lobby area with tables and chairs in which our customers can be a bit louder.  We also have a designated quiet room in the back of the library for study and reading. You may have to be a bit more creative to create the two distinct spaces.
This list is by no means exhaustive.  What do you do to create and welcoming, safe place? I would love to hear your ideas! 


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Summer Reading 2014 Goals

I am very excited about this year's summer reading theme.  The overarching theme is science, and it breaks down to the different age groups as follows:

                                                             Fizz, Boom, Read: CSLP Children

Children: Fizz, Boom, Read 
Teens: Spark a Reaction
Adult: Literary Elements

Science and libraries are such a good combination, and it is something new to many libraries.  It should be easy to generate interests.  I have some personal hope that it will help, even a little, overcome Americans reticence against science.  Yes, science is cool!  One should not be proud of the fact that they do not know mathematics!

This year, I am really hoping to go big with the program.  It is the perfect platform for finally bringing together several things that I have been trying to accomplish.  I would like to do a series of themed program, so that we can build on the momentum.  I would like to reach out to community partners, and I want to build teamwork and collaboration amongst the librarians. 

To help us stay on track with the program, we have set a few summer reading goals:
  • Get people excited about library resources.
  • Involve parents and families in summer reading program.
  • Reach out to more people who do not normally come to libraries.
  • Provide cultural and community enrichment.
  • Make connections with community partners.
  • Embrace STEM in the library.
It should be a very exciting summer.  We have some big plans that we will have to pick from ranging from a science fair to close out the program to a mini-con to celebrate science fiction.  I think one of our big keys will be reaching out to our community partners such as a our schools.  I don't think that we could find a better opportunity to collaborate with the teachers especially the science teachers, librarians, and principles. 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

E-Books and You

ALA President, Maureen Sullivan, has posted a Youtube video titled 'Ebooks and You'.  It is a short three minute video that doesn't say much other than to point out some ALA resources for librarians about ebooks. It is still worth a look. 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Educating public on ebooks

Originally published in the Oklahoma Librarian.
Recently on Publib, a listserv for public libraries, a subscriber posed the question of what libraries are doing to educate the public regarding issues concerning ebooks. ( ::crickets:: crickets::) The only response was from one person that pointed her to an online petition to publishers. What a missed opportunity. By not educating the public we are not only missing out on a huge opportunity for library advocacy, but we are damaging our own reputations.

This is not evident at first as libraries are trying to advocate with the publishers (though many say this is a case of too little too late), but if a library user searches on the li-brary website for the latest Janet Evanovich book they are not going to say, "Oh, she is pub-lished by Simon and Schuster, and darn that publisher, they won’t sell to libraries!" Quite the opposite, in fact, they will blame libraries. "They can’t even order best sellers! Any monkey could do their job better!"

There are many ways in which we can approach the public regarding the issues, and it can be overwhelming. I have a rather simple method with which we can start. At my library customers frequently come to the reference desk asking for help loading a library book onto their ereaders. We always give them a little cheat sheet to help them remember what we showed them. What if that cheat sheet also contained something along the following?

Can’t find your favorite authors’ ebooks on the library website?Did you know that three of the major six publishers, Simon & Schuster, Macmillan, and Hachette, will not sell their ebooks to libraries?

The other three major publishers will sell to libraries – but at a cost.

Random House has charged the libraries as much as 300% of the list price for ebooks.

HarperCollins makes the library purchase a new ebook after the original ebook has been checked out 26 times in an attempt to simulate physical wear.

Penguin is experimenting with libraries on a limited basis, but the release of ebooks to li-braries is delayed for six months after the publication date, and the ebooks are only good for a year before they must be renewed.

Why? The bottom line is… well, the bottom line. Publishers are afraid that if libraries lend ebooks for free that it will undercut their sales. In fact, the opposite has been shown to be true. A Pew report states that 50% of library users will later purchase a book by an author they dis-covered in the library. Librarians are publishers’ best advertising, and it is free advertising!

What can you do?
Write your favorite authors and make them aware of the dilemmas that libraries face. Let them know that you support your local library, and that you are concerned about current publishing practices. After all, this is author’s bottom line, too. Together, we can make a difference.  

Monday, August 20, 2012

Breaking Up [with Ebooks] is Hard to Do

Breaking Up with Ebooks is Hard to Do
Published in Sept/Oct Issue of Oklahoman Librarian

The Librarian in Black recently posted about her break-up with ebooks.  . She accused ebooks of playing the old bait and switch by promising wine and roses and instead giving a beer and cheeto relationship.  She waxes poetically throughout the post about how badly the ebook boyfriend treats her even going so far as to accuse ‘him’ of sleeping with her sister.  It was almost another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song.  While the post was wildly entertaining and I was tempted to dramatically whip off my promise ring and throw it in ebooks face, let’s be honest, Breaking Up [with ebooks] is Hard to Do.

I confess, I am deeply in love with ebooks.   While I still think fondly of my first love, the printed book, ebooks has long since replaced print in my heart.   I am not alone.  Library users love ebooks.   If you don’t think that libraries stuggle now with their public image and you are itching for a challenge, get rid of ebooks.  Even so, from the public side, ebooks still have their challenges.  I have eschewed the dedicated ebook reader, and I use a tablet (Android based, hate proprietary Apple) because it is a hassle to download library ebooks on a dedicated ebook reader.  Sideload from my computer?  Really?  That is SO last year.  This does not even address issues such as certain publishers not allowing libraries to lend ebooks.  We won’t mention names, will we Macmillan?

ALA released a report, Ebook Business Models that Andy, from Agnostic, Maybe, has accused of being a bit too brief and a case of too little too late.  I do not think that he is too far off the mark.  The report is very brief, but it does summarize nicely for what libraries are asking.

·         Inclusion of all titles – I Want it All without any embargo, and really, Its Not Too Much to Ask.
·         Enduring Rights: Give us ownership and all that it entails.
·         Intregration-metadata access without the DRM

In a perfect world, this is what we should strive for and what we have had with print books, however, You Can’t Always Get Want You Want.  Let’s look at our relationship expectations.  As librarians, we want to the publishers to give us what they do not give the public.  We want enduring rights.  We want to ‘own’ the ebook and have first sale rights.  We want to lend books through ILL.  The public does not have access to such.  I cringe when I think of all the ebooks that I have purchased through my Barnes and Noble app.  If Barnes and Noble goes out of business, what happens to my access to my ebooks?  When I am tired of reading my ebook, I cannot resell it or donate it to the library.  And while Barnes and Noble does have the ‘lend it’ function, out of the one hundred or so ebooks that I ‘own’, I can only lend two.  This is not limited to ebooks.  I thought of this as I bought Hunger Games through VuDu.  Maybe I should have bought it through Amazon. 

I do not think that breaking up with ebooks is the best move in this relationship.  However, I have no opposition to breaking up with the Big 6.  What we do now, will form the future of libraries.

Big Six is singing Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad to us.  They may need us, they may want us (or what we can do for them), but they will never love us.  On other hand, Overdrive may be a case of Paradise by the Dashboard Light.  In the heat of passion, we gave in and signed the contract, but now we are praying for the end of time.

So before we start rallying to These Boots Are Made for Walkin rember that there are Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover.  We do not have to break completely from ebooks, but we can perhaps have a more ‘open’ relationship and consider seeing other people. 

Monday, April 16, 2012

LG Flexible E-screens

LG has release a new flexible e-ink display.  The screen can bend up to 40 degrees, and it will even survive a typical fall.  The flexible displays are also thinner and lighter than the more traditional glass displays.  It was expected to show up in products in April though none have yet hit the mainstream.  If ebook sales have been effected so greatly by the device, what impact could the flexible display screen have on the ebook world?  One of the appeals for people using e-readers is that it is easier and lighter to hold than print books - especially if you are reading Game of Thrones.