Sunday, May 20, 2012

Remembering Maurice Sendak

May 8th was a dark day for readers young and old, as the news spread of the death of Maurice Sendak.  As we assembled tribute displays, the Library staff had many warm thoughts about the man who changed the face of children’s literature forever.  Some of us are old enough to have grown up with Little Bear, others had first encountered The Nutshell Library (“Chicken Soup with Rice” and other stories), and, of course, everyone knew Max.  As a matter of fact, “Where the Wild Things Are” remains so popular, the Library had recently made arrangements for a visit by The Wild Thing on June 2nd, as part of a community open house we are planning.

Patrons, too, had many memories to share.  A mother of a 1-year-old related that “Where the Wild Things Are” is their family bedtime story every night, even though her daughter is still too young to really grasp either the words or the pictures.  But this tale was an important part of the mother’s own childhood, and she knew from the first that she wanted to pass this on to the next generation.  That, truly, is the legacy of Maurice Sendak and his creations.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Evolving Universe of e-Books

Recently the Library held a workshop on using devices such as the Kindle, Nook and iPad to access our collection of e-books and other digital content.  Over 100 people showed up!  But access to and facility in using new hardware is only part of the e-book puzzle.  

Publishers are struggling to find a workable business model for making their books available in digital format.  Most troubling for libraries is a host of restrictions on where and how readers can acquire e-content.  Simon & Schuster, Macmillan, and Penguin do not sell e-book versions of their titles to libraries at all, and HarperCollins limits an e-book purchased by a library to 26 readings, and then a new “copy” must be purchased.  Others have increased the library purchase price of an e-book to several times the price paid by an individual consumer. 

What this means is that library patrons will be forced to purchase e-books, often from retailers with near monopoly power, instead of being able to share these resources within their communities, as they now do with printed books.  Visit for links to some insightful articles on this situation and how you can help shape the future of e-books in libraries.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

New Catalog and Account Features a Boon for Users

Most library patrons probably don’t know that our catalog and circulation system is based on open source software.  What this means for those of us who are not techies is that priorities for improvement and enhancement of these systems can be determined by the libraries that use them and rolled out as they evolve, instead of waiting for a behemoth corporate owner to authorize the development and release of an entirely new version.  New functions and features are created by programmers within the library community, often at lower cost and with a better understanding of the behavior and needs of library staff and users.  Along with our Bibliomation partners, we recently introduced some changes that you might find helpful.

The first thing you will notice is a much more attractive and easy-to-navigate catalog with added features such as lists of award winners.  Some of the wording has been changed also to be more intuitive for the casual user (“bookbag” has become “list,” for example).  

“My Account” now has several convenient new options, included one that allows you to turn on a feature that keeps a list of everything you have checked out – a recurring request by readers for many years.