Friday, April 25, 2014

Libraries offer more electronic services for patrons

By Emilee Eagar, Deseret News

Published: Mon, Jan. 20 3:07 p.m. MST

 Libraries across Utah are looking for new ways to \

Libraries across Utah are looking for new ways to "bridge the gap between physical and digital."

(Tom Smart, Deseret News)

NORTH LOGAN — With the availability of devices like electronic readers, one library director in North Logan said he and his staff hope to "bridge the gap between physical and digital," and other libraries also are working to fill that chasm.

"It was mostly just approaching library services in a different way," said Adam Winger, director of the North Logan City Library. "What are people using the library for? What makes a library relevant? How do we mix media? We shouldn't be a warehouse for books."

The North Logan library has 67 Kindles for patrons to check out, and Winger said there are plans to add about 30,000 titles to the library that can be put on six different devices.

"It can be frustrating to have an e-library," he said, when patrons have to worry about downloading the titles they want. Instead, the library will preload the Kindles with books, movies and apps.

"Right now, each one that we are checking out has over 1,000 titles on it," Winger said.

Another difficulty with integrating Kindles "is you have a lot of people that don't want to try the Kindles because they like traditional books," he said.

Winger ordered 40 leather-bound cases from England that look like 19th-century books to entice library patrons.

"It actually feels like you're reading a regular book in your hand," he said.

Transferring old VHS, cassette tapes, vinyl records, slides and negatives to DVDs are just a few services available to library patrons in the MakerSpace. The library also has three GoPro devices patrons can check out, online tutorials to teach them to edit video and learn other programs, as well as editing software in the MakerSpace.

"It's been fascinating," Winger said of opening the MakerSpace, not knowing how or if the public would utilize it.

Many library patrons use the center for the video transfer, researching family history and recording interviews with on-site microphones, he said. One thing that has surprised him the most, Winger said, is the artwork that has come from the MakerSpace.

"Some of our own library employees have been sketching on the digital sketch pad and then producing artwork that ends up being hung in the library," he said.

Local high school students also are taking advantage of the center, working on high-end projects.

"We're trying to give them an opportunity to have a real-world application," Winger said.

Other Utah libraries have implemented similar programs and devices.

Andrew Shaw, communications manager for the Salt Lake Main Library, said the library offers Kindles that patrons use within the library and have e-books, downloadable music and magazines, as well as online tutorials available for their patrons.

"We do offer our materials in new electronic ways and in downloadable ways that 10 years ago we didn't even imagine," Shaw said. "I don't think that libraries are worrying about becoming obsolete, but we do know that we need to keep up with the changing times — and there's a lot of change going on."

Salt Lake Main Library officials say they are always looking for new ways to provide material or information for the community, such as online tutorials and language programs.

Sharon Kuttler, support services manager for the Provo City Library, said use of e-books there has been on the rise in recent years.

"We checked out 56,503 digital books last year," she said. "That's a 56 percent increase from the precious year."

Kuttler said library officials expect that number to keep growing as more people buy e-readers, iPads and tablets. The Provo City Library also offers digital magazines, language programs and streaming video.

"Our circulation has decreased slightly, but we still circulated over 1.6 million (books and other physical) items," she said. "There's still a lot of interest in our community for checking out the physical items, but we want to stay current, we want to stay relevant, and we want to offer all the formats that people might be interested in."

Winger said there has been a steady stream of people using the MakerSpace, and each of the Kindles is on a waiting list about six patrons deep.

"Everything's being really well used and accepted," he said.

The library also has seen a significant increase in the number of nonresident library cards, which cost $90, Winger said. The library also offers summer passes for $24 for nonresidents.

"We have people in our library all the time from even other smaller towns around Cache Valley," he said, noting that some travel from as far as Brigham City.

Even with all of the new electronic devices and resources, Winger says books are not out of date.

"The book is going to be around," he said. "It's not going anywhere, but how do we mix the two?"

Email: eeagar@deseretnews.com

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