Thursday, March 24, 2011

Admiring Fountaindale's New Library!

The new 96,000 sq ft Fountaindale Public Library is open! The Grand Opening event is Saturday. If you have a chance, head over for a look at this $39.5 million 21st century facility. With the failed $30 million referendum for expanding Plainfield's downtown site to 70,000 sq ft and adding a 30,000 sq ft branch, we can only admire their facility for now while we plan for the future. Fountaindale has given us an example of what IS possible in a modern public library. We can use this example to help our planning process to find what is right for our own community.

Congratulations to the residents, staff and Board of Trustees of the Fountaindale Public Library District.

Monday, March 14, 2011

How to Put 10 Gallons in a 5 Gallon Bucket

I've stated it before: the Library's building was designed to hold a maximum collection of 67,830 items, plus all of the required seating for library users and staff, according to Serving Our Public: Standards for Illinois Public Libraries. Today, the Library houses over 134,000 physical items.

To maintain services through the next 4-5 years without more space, Library Trustees and staff are once more figuring out how to squeeze more into the precious space we have today. Something's got to give. We're looking at each room, each area, each use of each room to determine how we can reallocate the space to maximize every inch, from increasing shelving height to removing interior walls to eliminating built in desks. The reality is that this project will be choosing priorities and lesser evils - trading seating for shelf space and accessibility for collection growth. There will be tough trade-offs. Not everyone will be happy with the choices.

But we'll make the best decisions we can to balance cost vs. demand to continue to provide the best possible service for you.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Ebooks Limited to 26 Loans by Publisher HarperCollins, Prompting Outrage

For you non-librarians out there, this may be the first you have heard of this. For those in the know, skip to the video which shows the wear-and-tear of 26+ loans.

On Friday, publisher HarperCollins announced that they would be limiting the use of their ebooks for libraries to 26 loans. This prompted outrage from throughout the public library community. With declining revenues and increasing demand, public libraries like Plainfield are struggling to provide the things our residents need and want. You may recall that demand for ebooks following Christmas resulted in the crashing of the OverDrive site, through which Plainfield provides ebooks and downloadable audiobooks.

HarperCollins responded on Tuesday with additional information about their decision. While one understands their desire to maintain their own revenue stream, 26 loans is an extremely low and arbitrary number. In the normal course of operations, libraries do purchase replacement copies of older books in order to continue making them available. What is not acknowledged is that public libraries also make use of donated books for replacement purposes, a practice that is not available with ebooks.

To demonstrate the point that 26 loans is not a realistic reflection of use before replacement, the Pioneer Library System in Oklahoma pulled few HarperCollins books that had been loaned more than 26 times to show typical wear-and-tear:

Time Magazine's online edition included another take on the issue.

The question of licensing and the limiting of ebook use isn't settled. Perhaps a tiered system, similar to the lease program for books, may come into play. As it stands now, HarperCollins decision will hamper the ability of this public library to meet the high demand for ebooks, so recently expressed by our residents.