Cumberland Times-News

December 5, 2012

State of the Library ’12

Director: Upcoming ways the system plans to modernize

Greg Larry
Cumberland Times-News

— LAVALE — In an age of ever-changing technologies, Allegany County Library System Director John Taube said, “The library is a place were connections are made. We need to find people wherever they are.”

A guest of the Friends of the LaVale Library, Taube gave a presentation called, “State of the Library — 2013 and Beyond.”

Faced with growth in e-books, movies, downloads at  home and on mobile devices, Taube offered the update at the LaVale Library on Wednesday.

“You don’t see a lot of change on the outside,” said Taube. “On the inside, we are growing and changing as we try to respond to your needs.”

Taube distributed a chart that compared the changes in circulation over the past five-year period of 2007 to 2012.

The chart showed increases in the downloads of e-books, game lending and a doubling of movie rentals.

“There are some new material types emerging,” said Taube.

While the lack of movie rental stores has helped their movie usage, Taube said, the increased usage of e-readers like Nook, Kindle and others continue to fuel e-books.

“E-books are a new explosion and we expect the phenomenon to continue this holiday season and each and every year,” he said.

Circulation for the library has steadily increased over the years, but the type of content has changed.

Taube said the library now features a monthly message to pass on to patrons.

“In January, ‘How to use e-books’ will be our message,” said Taube.

With audio/visual material accounting for one-third of their items now, paperbacks and fiction and non-fiction book circulation has decreased.

Taube has also been pleased with the library’s foray into social networking.

“Using Facebook has helped us reach 1,000 more people and Twitter is coming on as well,” he said.

Taube told the group that the website is now accessible by mobile devices like smart phones, Android, Apple and others.

He spoke on the ways that the six branches of the Allegany County Library System are going to modify in the future to keep pace with customer tastes.

Self-checkout stations will be rolled out in 2013 at the larger branches: Washington Street, LaVale, South Cumberland and Frostburg, Taube said.

“Like at the grocery store, you will be able to put your card under a barcode scanner and be able to check books out yourself,” said Taube.

An online statewide inter-library loan system will begin on Dec. 17, according to Taube.

“From the workstations or from home, you will be able to request books from any library in Maryland and have it delivered to your home branch,” he said.

Taube hopes that the glass-enclosed study rooms, which now exist at Washington Street, LaVale and Frostburg, will be expanded.

“We have some larger rooms, but sometimes a small group, or a tutor with a student, need a place,” said Taube.

A kid’s PAC, or public access catalog, software that allows kids to search for books using a graphics-based program, will be added at Washington Street with hopes to expand in 2013.

In January, all library staff will be trained on iPod Touches that have been acquired; this will allow them to look things up for patrons anywhere, according to Taube.

Taube also explained to the group his hopes that all the branches will get fiber optic lines in the next two to three years.

“Except for Washington Street, the other branches currently use wireless via towers,” he said. “Now, when the tower has a problem, we can lose signal.”

Taube also spoke about his concerns with streaming for the future.

“Netflix, Sony and others want to stream content from their servers to you through the Internet,” said Taube.

The big six publishing houses, who sometimes don’t want libraries to have their books, could present challenges for getting content in the future, according to Taube.

Contact Greg Larry at glarry@times-news.com.