Thursday, July 31, 2008

2007-2008 A Busy Year @ the Library

Did you hear the report on All Things Considered recently about library use rising in response to the downturn in the economy? Well, it is not just in rural Kentucky that people are turning to their public libraries for books to read, kids’ activities, Internet access, newspapers and magazines and more, all free and all close to home. The 2007-2008 fiscal year, which ended June 30th, saw record levels of usage at the Ridgefield Library as well.

The number of visitors to the Library rose by 6,711 over the previous year, to 398,934 visits (an average of 1,170 per day). Checkouts reached an all-time high of 408,557, up 2.8% in the last 12 months. That amounts to an average of 16.9 items borrowed by every man, woman and child in town. Library staff fielded over 17,000 reference questions, and we logged an average of 81 sessions at our Public Access Computers each day. Visits to our website at went up by nearly 10,000 hits (a 16.4% increase), to 68,478, as Ridgefielders increasingly turned to our virtual library for more reliable answers than they could find on their own with a search engine. Subscriptions to our downloadable audiobook service were up by 6.1% and use of our wireless access rose 4.7%.

Attendance at programs reached over 19,000, due in no small part to the many wonderful Ridgefield Writes events presented in honor of the town’s tercentennial. The total number of programs presented came to 875, or an average of 17 storytimes, book discussions, concerts, author talks and more each and every week. To find out about those programs, over 2,000 families were subscribed to our e-mail newsletter and 22,193 visits were made to our online events calendar.

Whatever your motivation to come to the Library, we were pleased to welcome you during the past year and look forward to seeing you again soon.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

New Self-Checkout Provides Express Service

Serve yourself! That’s the message of the new self-service Express Checkout station at the Ridgefield Library. Just walk up to the special computer touchscreen at the Circulation Desk, scan your library card, and you are on your way. A simple-to-follow set of onscreen instructions is supplemented by audio cues to help you check out your selections quickly and easily. Any type of item may be borrowed at the Express Checkout, including DVDs and audiobooks. When done, touch “Finish” and you’ll get a printed receipt detailing the due dates of the items you have just checked out. Self-checkout is simple to use, even for people with minimal computer experience. Give it a try today – library staff is right at hand to answer any questions.

Here are a few tips for using Express Checkout:

  1. You must have your physical library card with you to use the system, which operates solely by scanning (no keyboard entry or name look-up).
  2. Your card must be up-to-date, and your account must be free of blocks caused by fines or lost item charges in excess of $5.00. You will need to seek the assistance of staff to clear up any irregularities before using Express Checkout.
  3. Waiting list books, Inter-Library Loans and other special items must be collected at the regular circulation counter.

Express Checkout is designed to expedite routine transactions, and there may be times when the system directs you to a staff person to take care of business such as fines or lost items. Of course, you can opt at any time for traditional service from our circulation staff, who are always happy to help you.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Summer Reading - It's Not Just for Kids

Adult Services Librarian Dorothy Pawlowski contributed the following update:

Children and teens aren’t the only ones enjoying summer reading at the Ridgefield Library. Thanks to the support of the Friends of the Ridgefield Library, this year marks our fourth annual Adult Summer Reading Program, which runs through Saturday, August 2nd. In celebration of our town’s 300th anniversary, this year’s theme is Adults Read Around Ridgefield.

Summer Reading is a way for adults to share favorite books and have some fun. To participate, just fill out an entry form with a review for each book read or audiobook listened to, and you’ll be entered for our weekly raffle prizes. Entry forms are available at the library or online, and you can even submit entries electronically. The reviews from Adult Summer Readers are available to all as a great resource for reading recommendations. This year, 22 businesses have made generous contributions that Reference Librarian Lesley-Anne Read has assembled into gorgeous gift baskets for our weekly prize drawings.

Don’t miss the remaining programs of our Adult Summer Reading Program. On Monday, July 28th at 10:30 AM, we’ll be hosting the latest of our monthly Books & Breakfast Book Chats. This informal gathering affords the opportunity for our staff member to share some of their favorite titles, and for participants to share books they’ve enjoyed. Library Director Chris Nolan, Teen Services Librarian Geri Diorio, and Circulation Supervisor Trevor Gladwin will be our staff presenters, and beverages and snacks will be provided. The second of our popular Brown Bag Mystery Lunches led by mystery writer Dr. Joanne Dobson will take place on Wednesday, July 30th at noon. Mysteries set in New England small towns will be the focus of this discussion. Finally, music fans mark your calendars for Thursday, July 31st at 7 PM as the folk duo Castlebay presents a program of Songs of Old New England.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

New Shelving Arrangement for Movies

You may have noticed changes to the arrangement of DVDs and videos at the Ridgefield Library.

Children’s entertainment movies are all now shelved front and center near the circulation desk. While our collections are now predominantly in DVD format, we still own a sizable number of kids’ films on VHS cassette to accommodate all those households with an old VCR in the playroom.

Also in this area are television shows on DVD, filed by the name of the series. From Masterpiece Theater classics to the latest HBO hits, this is one of the most popular and fastest growing collections in the Library.

Other entertainment-style films are shelved alphabetically by title in the first aisle, near the Storytime Sculpture Room. Foreign language films, formerly shelved on separate display units, are now interfiled with other movies and may be distinguished by a red or pink spine label with the letter L.

Children’s educational films are filed by Dewey Decimal number in Children’s Services, and other documentaries and instructional videos are interfiled with books on the same topic in the adult non-fiction section.

To assist families in finding appropriate viewing material, we have put colored spine labels on all movies indicating their rating from the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) or similar organization in other countries (i.e. G, PG, PG-13, etc.). Be advised that not all films have been rated, especially those created for television or produced outside of the US. These items have a blue spine label marked NR. An NR designation does not necessarily mean that the content is appropriate for all viewers, simply that no rating has been done. Parents are cautioned to review all material before screening for their children, as even a G-rated film like “Bambi” could contain situations that may be frightening or inappropriate for certain youngsters.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Down to Earth Practical Tips with a Fancy Name

What comes to your mind when you hear the phrase “electronic databases?” This is the unfortunately obscure term that the library world has adopted to describe a multitude of information resources that are available in a computerized format. Many people are familiar with the online versions of encyclopedias like World Book. Students and researchers know about the newest generation of periodical indexes that feature full-text articles and have replaced the old multi-volume print reference sets. Genealogy research and investment analysis services are used by an increasing number of people.

But I bet very few would associate the words “electronic database” with practical advice on topics such as planning a remodeling project, caring for an aging lawn mower or replacing the fan belt in your car. Take a look at the “Research” section on the Library’s website at, and you’ll find the Home Improvement, Small Engine Repair and Automobile Repair Reference Centers from EBSCO, a premiere publisher of reference information of all types.

The reference centers include technical service bulletins, recall notices and parts specifications on all kinds of vehicles and gadgets; video clips that demonstrate repair techniques; how-to articles and lay-out diagrams for common do-it-yourself tasks; tips from the pros; and much more. Have a plumbing emergency after working hours? With a wireless Internet connection and a laptop, you can even log on and have all this valuable information at your finger tips, any time of day or night – right where the problem is.

So, whether you want to remodel your home to be more environmentally conscious or just need a part number for a used car acquired without an owner’s manual, give the EBSCO Reference Centers a try – all brought to you by the Ridgefield Library.