Archive for Digital Library News
If you are passing through the San Antonio International Airport you can now borrow eBooks for free. Two Digital Library kiosks have been installed by the Friends of the San Antonio Public Library at a cost of $26,000.
The San Antonio Public Library has introduced a new innovative new feature into the kiosks that will allow out-of-town travelers to get a temporary library SAPL card that they can use right in the airport. The cards are good for 24 hours and have a limit of three items that can be checked out for seven days.
The kiosks are primarily used as a rapid charging station but also allow you to gain a library card. Once you attain a temporary card, you can use it to log onto the libraries main website to borrow audiobooks, eBooks, music or videos.
I really like this concept. The entire notion of a free library card that expires after three days of use, but allows a traveler to borrow media for a week is really excellent. I hope this idea catches on, it serves as a solid introduction to the library system and hopefully gets the traveler to use their own local libraries digital services when they get home.
Baker and Taylor has just expanded into New Zealand, giving public libraries the ability to loan out eBooks and audiobooks. The first libraries to offer digital content will be in Wellington City.
In order to expand into NZ, B&T needed to leverage their Australian subsidiary James Bennett. This is similar to Overdrive using Softlink as a partner in Australia, except they don’t actually own the company.
The agreement between Baker & Taylor/James Bennett and Wellington City Council offers all New Zealand public libraries an opportunity to sign onto a Participating Agency Agreement (PAA) and receive the terms and services outlined in the contract. Participating public libraries will have access to a wide range of areas in which Baker & Taylor/James Bennett have developed industry-leading expertise and technology, including collection development, ordering and procurement services and customized library solutions/technical services.
Working in partnership with Baker & Taylor/James Bennett also ensures that New Zealand libraries can quickly and easily receive all major titles from New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom through James Bennett’s warehouse in Sydney, as well as U.S. titles through Baker & Taylor’s American operations.
Baker and Taylor is the last major library to have a presence in New Zealand. Overdrive launched there in 2011 and 3M Cloud Library entered the market in 2013.
Barnes and Noble has quietly been building a large catalog of digital newspapers and magazines for their Nook line of e-readers and tablets. In order to glean more market share, the largest bookseller in the US has just partnered with Overdrive to make available content from the Nook Newsstand to libraries.
NOOK Newsstand features the largest digital collection of the top 100 bestselling U.S. magazines, available for both digital subscriptions and single copy sales, and a vast collection of newspapers and magazines from around the world. A huge selection of that content will be available for readers to check out for free from their local library. The new partnership between OverDrive and NOOK Newsstand will enable readers to access popular magazines and newspapers in the same manner, and on the same website, as they discover and borrow OverDrive eBooks, audiobooks and streaming video. Libraries will be able to purchase concurrent access to all selected publications.
Library patrons can check out these digital magazines and newspapers with a valid library card and read them through their NOOK account via a NOOK tablet device or Free NOOK Reading App available for a multitude of smartphones and tablets. Customers who download NOOK Newsstand content through their local library always have access to the free in-store support and expertise provided by the booksellers at Barnes & Noble’s more than 650 bookstores across the U.S.
“NOOK Newsstand is one of the leading providers of digital magazines and newspapers and this new partnership with OverDrive is another example of our commitment to delivering great content to all readers,” said Jonathan Shar, Vice President and General Manager of Emerging Digital Content at NOOK Media LLC. “OverDrive is the foremost supplier of eBooks to libraries and we are thrilled to partner with them to offer library patrons the opportunity to access our award-winning content and reading technology.”
“The new digital service for periodicals will provide readers the ability to read digital magazines and newspapers with a best-in-class user experience,” said David Burleigh, Director of Marketing & Communication at OverDrive. “Your library card, a NOOK Account, and an Internet connection are all you need to enjoy visually stunning magazines and familiar newspaper layouts on almost all tablets and smartphones.”
The 3M Cloud Library has just inked a deal with Barnes and Noble to provide libraries with e-readers to loan out to their patrons. This will give patrons the ability to borrow eBooks from the library, even if they don’t own a device, they can simply borrow one.
“What’s unique about our program is that patrons can choose the titles they want to read, rather than borrowing a pre-loaded device with a title they may not be interested in,” said Tom Mercer, 3M Cloud Library Marketing Manager. “Our program gives patrons choice and allows libraries to extend digital reading to more people in their community.”
To use the device at participating libraries, patrons can browse the 3M Cloud Library collection and check out an eBook from any computer in the library, then visit the appropriate lending desk to have the title loaded onto a NOOK GlowLight. The devices are sold to libraries through local Barnes & Noble Community Relations Managers, who pre-load them with secure software. The software only allows the devices to be used through the library’s account, requires no personal information from the patron, and renders the device inoperable once titles are due.
“Our library has been lending several hundred NOOK GlowLight eReaders with 3M Cloud Library compatibility with great success,” said Laura Cole, Special Projects Coordinator at BiblioTech Library in Bexar County, Texas. “The devices are easy to use, reliable and lightweight. Best of all, our patrons love the GlowLight feature for nighttime reading.”’
The highest court in Europe has ruled that libraries can digitize books without publishers permission and distribute them to dedicated reading terminals. The decision rests on exceptions built into the EU Copyright Directive for reproducing and communicating intellectual property. Specifically it says that publicly accessible libraries may make works available at “dedicated terminals… for the purpose of research or private study.”
Under the EU Copyright Directive, authors have the exclusive right to authorize or prohibit the reproduction and communication of their works. However, the directive also allows for exceptions or limitations to that right.
“The right of libraries to communicate, by dedicated terminals, the works they hold in their collections would risk being rendered largely meaningless, or indeed ineffective, if they did not have an ancillary right to digitize the works in question,” the court said.
This is good news for library patrons that simply need to conduct research. However, libraries cannot permit visitors to use the terminals to print out the works or store them on a USB stick, by doing so, the visitor reproduces the work by making a new copy. This copying is not covered by the exception, particularly since the copies are made by individuals and not by the library itself.
The Future of libraries and publishing looks bright, as young people are reading as much or more than adults. A new report by Pew gives us some new data on the reading habits of adults and millennials.
The community and general media-use activities of younger adults are different from older adults. Those under age 30 are more likely to attend sporting events or concerts than older adults. They are also more likely to listen to music, the radio, or a podcast in some format on a daily or near-daily basis, and socialize with friends or family daily. Older adults, in turn, are more likely to visit museums or galleries, watch television or movies, or read the news on a daily basis.
As a group, Millennials are as likely as older adults to have used a library in the past 12 months, and more likely to have used a library website. Among those ages 16-29, 50% reported having used a library or bookmobile in the course of the past year in a September 2013 survey. Some 47% of those 30 and older had done so. Some 36% of younger Americans used a library website in that time frame, compared with 28% of those 30 and older. Despite their relatively high use of libraries, younger Americans are among the least likely to say that libraries are important. Some 19% of those under 30 say their library’s closing would have a major impact on them and their family, compared with 32% of older adults, and 51% of younger Americans say it would have a major impact on their community, compared with 67% of those 30 and older.
As with the general population, most younger Americans know where their local library is, but many say they are unfamiliar with all the services it may offer: 36% of Millennials say they know little or nothing about the local library’s services, compared with 29% of those 30 and older. At the same time, most younger Americans feel they can easily navigate their local library, and the vast majority would describe libraries as warm, welcoming places, though younger patrons are less likely to rate libraries’ physical conditions highly.
While previous reports from Pew Research have focused on younger Americans’ e-reading habits and library usage, this report will explore in their attitudes towards public libraries in greater detail, as well as the extent to which they value libraries’ roles in their communities. To better understand the context of younger Americans’ engagement with libraries, this report will also explore their broader attitudes about technology and the role of libraries in the digital age.
It is important to note that age is not the only factor in Americans’ engagement with public libraries, nor the most important. Our library engagement typology found that Americans’ relationships with public libraries are part of their broader information and social landscapes, as people who have extensive economic, social, technological, and cultural resources are also more likely to use and value libraries as part of those networks. Deeper connections with public libraries are also often associated with key life moments such as having a child, seeking a job, being a student, and going through a situation in which research and data can help inform a decision. As a result, the picture of younger Americans’ engagement with public libraries is complex and sometimes contradictory, as we examine their habits and attitudes at different life stages.
Even among those under 30, age groups differ in habits and attitudes
Though there are often many differences between Americans under 30 and older adults, younger age groups often have many differences that tie to their age and stage of adulthood.
Our surveys have found that older teens (ages 16-17) are more likely to read (particularly print books), more likely to read for work or school, and more likely to use the library for books and research than older age groups. They are the only age group more likely to borrow most of the books they read instead of purchasing them, and are also more likely to get reading recommendations at the library. Yet despite their closer relationship with public libraries, 16-17 year-olds are less likely to say they highly value public libraries, both as a personal and community resource. Older adults, by contrast, are more likely to place a high level of importance on libraries’ roles in their communities—even age groups that are less likely to use libraries overall, such as those ages 65 and older.
The members of the next oldest age group, college-aged adults (ages 18-24), are less likely to use public libraries than many other age groups, and are significantly less likely to have visited a library recently than in our previous survey: Some 56% of 18-24 year-olds said they had visited a library in the past year in November 2012, while just 46% said this in September 2013. They are more likely to purchase most of the books they read than borrow them, and are more likely to read the news regularly than 16-17 year-olds. In addition, like the next oldest age group, 25-29 year-olds, most of those in the college-aged cohort have lived in their current neighborhood five years or less.
Finally, many of the library habits and views of adults in their late twenties (ages 25-29) are often more similar to members of older age groups than their younger counterparts. They are less likely than college-aged adults to have read a book in the past year, but are more likely to keep up with the news. In addition, a large proportion (42%) are parents, a group with particularly high rates of library usage. Additionally, library users in this group are less likely than younger patrons to say their library use has decreased, and they are much more likely to say that various library services are very important to them and their family.
Younger Americans’ community activities, and media and technology landscapes
As a group, the library usage of younger Americans ages 16-29 fits into the larger context of their social activities and community engagement, as well as their broader media and technological environment. Those under age 30 are more likely to attend sporting events or concerts than older adults. They are also more likely to listen to music, the radio, or a podcast in some format on a daily or near-daily basis, and socialize with friends or family daily. Older adults, in turn, are more likely to visit museums or galleries, watch television or movies, or read the news on a daily basis.
About four in ten younger Americans (43%) reported reading a book—in any format—on a daily basis, a rate similar to older adults. Overall, 88% of Americans under 30 read a book in the past year, making them more likely to do so than older adults. Among younger Americans who did read at least one book, the median or typical number read in the past year was 10.
Younger Americans typically have higher rates of technology adoption than older adults, with 98% of those under 30 using the internet, and 90% of those internet users saying they using social networking sites. Over three-quarters (77%) of younger Americans have a smartphone, and many also have a tablet (38%) or e-reader (24%).
Respondents of all age groups generally agree that the internet makes it much easier to find information today than in the past, and most Americans feel that it’s easy to separate the good information from bad online. However, Americans under age 30 are actually a little more likely than older adults to say that there is a lot of useful, important information that is not available on the internet. They are also somewhat more likely to agree that people without internet access are at a real disadvantage because of all the information they might be missing.
Relationships with public libraries
Younger Americans are significantly more likely than older adults to have used a library in the past year, including using a library website. Overall, the percentage of all Americans who visited a library in person in the previous year fell from our 2012 to 2013 surveys, but the percentage who used a library website increased; the same is true for younger Americans. Few library users made use of a library website without also visiting a library in person in that time, however, so overall library usage rates did not increase:
Among those ages 16-29, the percentage who visited a public library in person in the previous year dropped from 58% in November 2012 to 50% in September 2013, with the largest drop occurring among 18-24 year-olds.
36% of younger Americans used a library website in the previous year, up from 28% in 2012, with the largest growth occurring among 16-17 year-olds (from 23% to 35%).
Despite their higher rates of library usage overall, younger Americans—particularly those under age 25—continue to be less likely than older adults to say that if their local public library closed it would have a major impact on either them and their family or on their community. Patrons ages 16-29 are also less likely than those ages 30 and older to say that several services are “very important” to them and their family, though those in their late twenties are more likely than younger age groups to strongly value most services.
As with the general population, most younger Americans know where their local library is, but many are unfamiliar with all the services they offer. However, most younger Americans feel they can easily navigate their local library, and the vast majority would describe libraries as warm, welcoming places, though younger patrons are less likely to rate libraries’ physical conditions highly.
Views about technology in libraries
Looking specifically at technology use at libraries, we found that as a group, patrons under age 30 are more likely than older patrons to use libraries’ computers and internet connections, but less likely to say these resources are very important to them and their families—particularly the youngest patrons, ages 16-17. Even though they are not as likely to say libraries are important, young adults do give libraries credit for embracing technology. Yet while younger age groups are often more ambivalent about the role an importance of libraries today than older adults, they do not necessarily believe that libraries have fallen behind in the technological sphere. Though respondents ages 16-29 were more likely than those ages 30 and older to agree that “public libraries have not done a good job keeping up with newer technologies” (43% vs. 31%), a majority of younger Americans (52%) disagreed with that statement overall.
About these surveys
This report covers the core findings from three major national surveys of Americans ages 16 and older. Many of the findings come from a survey of 6,224 Americans ages 16+ conducted in the fall of 2013. A full statement of the survey method and details can be found here: http://www.pewinternet.org/2014/03/13/methods-27/.
Florida Polytechnic University has just opened their doors and instead of dusty bookshelves full of books, they are embracing digital. This marks the first time diligent young scholars can borrow eBooks on their Kindles, Nooks or iPads and there is not a tangible book in sight.
The inaugural class of 500 students will have access to over 135,000 eBooks and digital textbooks for the upcoming September semester. “Our on-campus library is entirely digital,” said director of libraries Kathryn Miller. “We have access to print books through the state university system’s interlibrary loan program. However, we strongly encourage our students to read and work with information digitally.”
The new university is primarily focused on science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Students are better prepared for lives in the technology sector by being able to read, absorb, manage and search digital documents and conduct digital research.
Florida is not the only intuition to embrace eBooks at the expense of physical books. Bexar County opened up the first all digital library a few months ago. Patrons can easily access over 10,000 eBooks and residents will be able read them on one of the 600 E-readers, 9 laptops or 40 tablets that are available for loan.
The Publishing industry has firmly embraced making the vast majority of their titles to libraries in the United States. The big 5 have either initiated a major pilot project or have committed themselves to a broad rollout. With all of the news primarily focused on the US, what does the landscape look like for the rest of the world? A new research report by the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions seeks to address some of these queries.
Australia and New Zealand
Public libraries in Australia and New Zealand report sustained and continuing growth in eBook provision and use. State of Victoria public libraries report 298,809 eBook downloads in 2011/12 and 497,045 downloads in 2012/13 (+66%) Users of the State Library of Western Australia downloaded 9,130 eBooks in January 2013 and 21,564 eBooks in January 2014 (+136%). The January 2014 loans constituted 1.4 loans per title available. Users of Brisbane City Libraries downloaded 4,212 eBooks in 2008 and 116,272 eBooks in 2012. New Zealand public libraries report 2012/13 holdings of 111,336 (growth of 1,762% in two years), downloads of 354,066 (growth of 1,968% in two years) and expenditure of $1,038,543 NZ[$900,868 US/€654,011] (growth of 363% in two years).
Five large urban public libraries in Canada with mature digital collections serving a combined population of 8,402,000 reported the following combined digital use statistics: Downloadable eBook circulation in 2013 was 2,871,514 downloads or 0.34 per capita. This is a 1,313.3% increase over 2010 downloads and a 60.9% increase over 2012 downloads. 139,023 downloadable eBook titles were in their collections (an increase of 526% over 2010) and 244,951 eBook “volumes” 1.8 “volumes” per title. In 2013 the average annual downloads per volume was 12. The libraries provide access to 37,369 downloadable audio titles.
In Quebec, 71 public libraries belong to BIBLIOPRESTO.CA. Library users downloaded 661,598 eBooks in 2012/13 and it is projected that downloads will double in the next 12 months. Individual library data is indicative of strong growth in eBook availability and use Montreal Public Library downloads grew from 9,559 in 2012 to 31,708 in 2013 (+232%) Quebec City Public Library downloads grew from 27,417 in 2012 to 69,951 in 2013 (+155%).
As is the case with the publishing sector, libraries in the European Union have been slower to adopt eBooks, especially in non-English speaking countries. eBook availability in EU libraries varies significantly from country to country depending upon factors such as the funding available for library purchasing, indigenous publishing practice, library governance structure and preferred licensing regimes.
The International Publishers Association estimates that 90% of overall publishing revenue in Africa is derived from education markets. It is not a surprise that the availability of eBooks from African libraries is limited largely to university collections with an emphasis on streamed scholarly publishing content originating outside the continent. The 2013 South African Book Fair had as its focus “The future of eBooks: the impact of the digital eBook phenomenon” and the comments from publishing executives solely dealt with the education market and the potential for acceptance of digital textbooks.
eBook data reported from Asian countries indicates wide variations in library availability and use. Apabi Chinese eBooks are published in Mainland China and its content emphasises more scholarly rather than leisure reading content.
Hong Kong public libraries report 186,497 eBook titles in their collections, 72,500 which are Apabi eBooks. The balance is made up of streamed bundle services including ebrary Academic Complete and EBSCOhost. The relatively low use of eBook collections (annual use of 1.1 per title) is attributed by library staff to the lack of leisure reading titles available and the confusing access requirements for the different databases.
A large majority of Japanese public libraries do not provide eBooks at this time. Korean public libraries report over 3 million eBook titles available and annual expenditure of 3.6 million US dollars (2012).
Singapore reports 3,062,002 eBook titles, circulation of 8,247,966 and annual expenditure of $1,268,857 US (all 2012). Taiwan public libraries report eBook title holdings of 255,278 (2012) and annual circulation of 562,482 (2013).
According to Library Journal’s “2013 Report on E-Books in Public Libraries”, where 89% of US public libraries offer eBooks, collection size and circulation have increased: 45% increase in median number of e-books between 2012 (5,080) and 2013 (7,380) 145% circulation increase from 2011 to 2012 (with anticipated 2013 increase of +38.9%) These numbers reflect all points of access, including those directly licensed or purchased by an individual library and those available through a consortium. 91% of library eBooks are accessed one user at a time comprising: 70% downloaded copies, 21% web based access copies 9% are unlimited, simultaneous access.Public demand for eBooks in the US public libraries has held steady at 6:1 holds to copy eBook ratio (unchanged from 2011 and 2013).
Macmillan started a limited US eBook pilot program for libraries at the beginning of 2013. The company only contributed titles at first from their Minotaur imprint to gauge market acceptance to their terms and conditions. The publisher is very satisfied with the amount of capital they are gleaning their established relationships with 3M, Baker & Taylor and Overdrive. This has prompted Macmillan to open up their entire catalog of 15,000 eBooks, including ones that just came out.
Macmillan is one of the those publishers that took ponderous steps to fully accept contributing their eBooks to libraries. They originally started with around 1,000 titles from Minotaur Press and then in October 2013 contributed their vast backlist catalog. This week the company has announced that they will also start selling their frontlist, which is a fancy way of saying any new book that comes out, even bestsellers.
All of the frontlist titles will be available for libraries in the United States to start purchasing in early August. It is important to note that each title is going to cost $60 each, which is well beyond the $9.99 cover price found on Amazon. Once the digital title is bought, it is only good for 52 loans or two years of library ownership.
Alison Lazarus, President, of Macmillan Sales comments: “Librarians have been asking for our frontlist titles for their collections. With more than a year of our current pilot behind us and a better sense of the market, we feel comfortable expanding our offering to our full catalog.”
Libraries are clamoring for the oportonity to offer best sellers for all of their patrons, but the terms and conditions of publishers leave something to be desired. Simon and Schuster mandates that in order for libraries to buy their eBooks, they have to offer a BUY IT NOW button on their website. Macmillan is forcing libraries to pay almost $50 more than the cover price found on Amazon, B&N or Kobo.
Northern Ireland libraries have been loaning out eBooks since 2009. Patrons have recently been embracing the digital platform, as the digital collection improves.
When eBooks first became available at Northern Ireland Libraries in 2011, there was only 363 eBooks to loan out. In 2014, the collection has grown and 9,439 titles were downloaded in a single month. On average, they are loaning out 363 a day.
Since the start of this year, the most popular genre for e-book borrowers in Northern Ireland has been romantic fiction, followed by the work of crime writers.
The English department and student library are undergoing some trying times when it comes to reading classic literature. A very high majority of young scholars find it a chore to have to read or being forced to do it. The libraries are seeing record number of seminal classics such as The Odyssey, Catcher in the Rye or the Great Gatsby not even being checked out once in a school year. This is resulting in some libraries removing classic novels from the shelves and sold off, or offered as donations.
Wisconsin parents and librarians are concerned that classic novels are being removed from schools. This is prompting a ton of complaints against the Department of Education. District workers over the summer are removing thousands of books and school workers at a loss why.
District workers who lack library training and collection management are entering libraries and removing of books that had been rarely checked out or were older than 2000, including classics, often without the knowledge or input of the librarian on staff, because they are on summer holidays.
One of the hardest-hit schools was Mitchell Middle School, according to Gabrielle Sharrock, she lamented “I was not consulted about books being removed and two days after the school was “weeded” I found dozens of boxes full of books slated to be destroyed, numerous shelves bare and most of the non-fiction section nearly cleared out.”
Middle school and high schools often employ a single librarian or a squad of two to maintain the entire collection. In order to keep the library updated district workers are dispatched during the summer months to weed out the books not loaned out at all during a school year, are in reprehensible shape or simply not relevant. Apparently classic novels such as Brave New World is not hip anymore, but Grumpy Catis permanently loaned out.
Do Students Hate the Classics?
District workers removing thousands of books and either donating or destroying them is sobering news. This does raise the interesting point of how current students view remedial reading or spending time in the library.
One student said “the point of English class is not to make you love books but trying to get you to deconstruct the author’s work. However, all throughout high school, I did no deconstructing of my own and instead just regurgitated what sparknotes said. This was partly due to laziness but more so because I didn’t actually understand the subtle points the book was trying to make.”
A recently graduated high school student countered “This is something the modern education curriculum needs to grapple with – information is now insanely pervasive, accessible, and instantaneous. It doesn’t require a dedicated night of research to figure out how to do your taxes by going to a library and digging through books.”
He continued “In terms of social benefit, through, this entire mess calls into question the systemic function of school in the first place – is deconstruction and analytical interpretation of literature a necessary skill in life? Hell no. So here is a question – why are you forcing it on all the nations youths, especially when it actively detracts from a long term healthy engagement with mentally stimulating writings? My own experiences pay privy to that notion since a good 90% of my peers haven’t read a book for leisure ever. Mainly because they were scarred by compulsory curriculum with arcane language and no modern cultural relatability.”
Finally, a current student at a Wisconsin High School said “I was utterly bored with Lord of the Flies and The Great Gatsby just because I didn’t have a choice in reading them”
Students over the years really have not changed. I remember with compulsory reading, 99% of the students hated it and used Sparknotes or Cliff Notes. At the middle or high school age students don’t like to be forced to read books and do essays on them. This is partly because of the books being unrelatable by modern conventions. It is no small wonder the books that go unread are the ones being tossed in the rubbish bin. I just hope that the future of humanity is not culturally devoid and speak exclusively in Emoji.
Libraries in the United States have been steadily embracing digital books for the past few years. A new report has decreed that 90% of all libraries now loan out eBooks, up from 76% in 2012.
The American Library Association is the definitive body in convincing libraries to embrace digital. They frequently hold annual meetings in different States and hold sessions where key executives and librarians talk about digital.
In the past few years ALA has been petitioning major publishers to bring them onboard with the concept that loaning the eBooks out for free, does not devalue the work. Penguin-Random House, S&S, Hachette, and HarperCollins have all committed themselves to making libraries work for them, although each company has their terms and conditions.
Some publishers have 26 limit checkouts before having to purchase the book again, while others allow libraries one years worth of loans. S&S mandates that libraries need to implement a Buy IT Now button and sell the eBooks, in order to even do business with them, while Penguin offers it as an option. Despite some of the shortcomings and each publisher having their own terms, the industry is hoping for a more unified strategy in the coming years.
Digital adoption by libraries has never been higher in the history of humankind. It is ridiculously simply to borrow an audiobook, eBook or watch a streaming video. Next year, I would not be surprised if this 90% figure were to climb further.
Nearly 100 percent of America’s public libraries offer workforce development training programs, online job resources, and technology skills training, according to a new study from the American Library Association (ALA). Combined with maker spaces, coding classes, and programs dedicated to entrepreneurship and small business development, libraries are equipping U.S. communities with the resources and skills needed to succeed in today’s – and tomorrow’s – global marketplace.
President Obama and Congress recently acknowledged the vital contributions of libraries by enabling them—for the first time—to be considered One-Stop partners and eligible for federal funding to support job training and job search programs. The bipartisan Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act also authorizes adult education and literacy activities provided by public libraries as an allowable statewide employment and training activity.
“Senator Jack Reed and I led the effort to include public libraries in this important new law because they are often the first places Americans go for skill development and job search assistance,” said Representative Rush Holt (D-NJ). “I’ve seen this firsthand with NJWorks@yourlibraryproject, which used federal Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) funding to help get job seekers back to work with access to online job resources and training in every community in New Jersey.”
Overall, libraries report technology improvements—including nearly ubiquitous public wi-fi, growing mobile resources and a leap in e-book access—but the ALA’s 2014 Digital Inclusion Survey also documents digital differences among states and an urban/rural divide.
“Until the Digital Inclusion Survey, no national study has shown in such detail the extent to which libraries complete education, jumpstart employment and entrepreneurship, and foster individual empowerment and engagement, or the E’s of Libraries™,” said ALA President Courtney Young. “The study also begins to map new programs and technology resources that range from STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) maker programming to 3D printing to hackathons.”
Among the study findings:
*98% of libraries provide free public access to Wi-Fi, up from 89% in 2012;
*98% provide technology training, ranging from internet safety and privacy to coding to using social media;
*98% provide assistance completing online government forms;
*97% provide online homework help;
*95% offer workforce development training programs;
*90% offer e-books, up from 76% in 2012;
*56% offer health and wellness programs regarding developing healthy lifestyles;
*50% offer entrepreneurship and small business development programs; and
*Average number of computers provided by libraries is now 20, up from 16 in 2012
“Changes in technology—whether internet speeds, or new devices or new applications—are racing faster all the time,” said IMLS Director Susan Hildreth. “Libraries are ideally positioned to help everyone in our communities get up to speed. This is the heart of digital inclusion—equitable access to internet-connected devices and online content plus the skills to take advantage of the educational, economic and social opportunities available through these technologies.”
Funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and managed by the ALA Office for Research & Statistics and the Information Policy and Access Center at the University of Maryland, the Digital Inclusion Study provides national- and state-level data. The International City/County Management Association and ALA Office for Information Technology Policy are partners in the research effort.
While most libraries marked progress from the last national library technology study in 2012, advances are uneven. Less than half of rural libraries reported they increased bandwidth speeds in the last 24 months, compared with 64 percent of urban libraries and 56 percent of suburban libraries. Fewer than two-thirds of rural libraries report having access to information technology (IT) staff, far behind their counterparts. A vast majority of all libraries (66 percent), though, agree they would like to increase their broadband capacity, and that cost is the leading barrier to doing so.
“It is increasingly understood that access to broadband is the critical success factor across our society, and we must do more to connect all of our communities,” said ICMA Executive Director Robert J. O’Neill, Jr. “Libraries play an essential role in helping local governments meet their greatest challenges by connecting their services to critical community priorities.”
The study provides a first national look at emerging trends, from STEM maker spaces (17 percent, or about 3,000 libraries), to wireless printing (33 percent) to 3D printers and hosting hackathons or other coding/application development events (about 2 percent each, or roughly 260 libraries). Creation and making activities already are transforming what is possible for communities through libraries. At the Johnson County Library in Kansas, for instance, a library patron printed a mechanical hand for a family friend. High school student Mason Wilde loaded needed blueprints onto library computers and used the library’s 3D printer to create the necessary parts. Wilde then decided to start a nonprofit to make 3D prosthetics for other children, and he is now considering a career in the biomedical field.
“Creating is becoming a new digital competency, and libraries are building and expanding their programs and services to meet these changing community needs,” said Ann Joslin, President of the Chief Officers of State Library Agencies. Joslin also is the state librarian in Idaho, which currently has a pilot program underway to support library maker activities and encourage the use of new technologies and tools.
“Whether it’s a class on internet safety, an entrepreneur who identifies potential customers from databases or a class on digital content creation, libraries continue to establish themselves as digital leaders in communities,” Young concluded. “This study demonstrates how technology investments benefit our libraries and our patrons, and keep our communities thriving.”
Kids ebooks have been slow to take off, despite the great content coming out from companies like iStoryTime and Scholastic. But Kobo, whose Kobo Kids’ Store offers younger readers a catalog of over 100,000 ebook titles, recenlty secured a deal that would add some of the most beloved children’s books of all time to its catalog. This week, Kobo announced that it would offer 40 of Dr. Seuss’ most well-known and admired titles for children, adding that content to the already dynamic ebook offerings for kids through Kobo devices and the Kobo app.
“Theodor Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss, expanded our idea of what a children’s book could be. Through fantastical worlds and text both silly and inspiring, Dr. Seuss has always played and continues to play a part in igniting the imaginations of young readers,”said Michael Tamblyn, President and Chief Content Officer, Kobo, in a press release. “It is a part of childhood that every parent looks forward to passing on to their kids and we couldn’t be more pleased to be bringing these essential books to young readers in digital form.”
This offering comes at a time when studies still demonstrate that younger readers tend to not only prefer print when reading self-selected texts, but an alarming study also showed a decrease in reading comprehension when kids were required to read digital editions (as opposed to having selected the ebook for themselves). But why the push for children’s ebooks if they prefer print and perform better with paper? Because the educational landscape is changing dramatically, especially for higher education, and students who aren’t equipped to navigate an environment where their coursework is on device screens may find themselves at a disadvantage. By introducing ebooks at an early age and helping students remain focused on the book throughout its use, these readers will grow up to be better suited to the expectations of an increasing number of colleges and universities.