BF575 – Libraries are the Past and Future

When I thought about touring a library, I considered the options both near and further from my home and the library I work in. The last time I did a technology tour, I went to the Eugene Public Library, which is vastly different than my home and work library. It was an interesting comparison to visit a library much closer in terms of size and community needs.

Both communities are certainly diverse. Newport is a mixture of a fishing town with local marine scientists, government workers, and the service industry melding into one. There is a high poverty rate and one thing the library does to combat the low literacy rates that seem to be tied into poverty levels is administer Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library program to get books into the hands of children. In the 19 years that Sheryl Eldridge has worked at the Newport Public Library, she has seen the community change and grow. She has worked to keep up and establish a strong culture of literacy, including the Newport Reads program, which started in 2006. This year’s selection is, “The Soul of an Octopus” by Sy Montgomery.

The Eugene Public Library was large, modern, and had access to innovative technology in their makerspaces. There were many staff members and a large number of access points both physically and digitally. A complex automation system functioned behind the scenes and a strong technology plan was in place for growth into the future. The Newport Public Library is mid-size, older and cozy with technology in place to meet the community needs. There is not an automation system and a less formal technology plan, but the library service is just as strong as the larger program in Eugene.

The incorporation of Spanish language materials in Newport speaks to the recognition of the community at large as this comparison highlights. In Eugene budget was spent on the passive technology programming of the Makerspace areas, while Newport chooses to focus on more active programming. There is also a difference in the feeling of the social media sites as Eugene’s presence was controlled at a higher level and in the marketing department and Newport’s feels just like it’s library, more organic and personal.

With all of this being said, I think both libraries are doing great things in their communities. They recognize the needs and where the resources are best allocated and then they charge ahead with enthusiasm and vigor. There is a excitement behind the scenes in Newport and a refusal to be complacent. The technology services provided, as well as those under consideration, are given thoughtful review and evaluation.

Thank you to the Newport Public Library and to Librarian Sheryl Eldridge for hosting me and my many questions. I appreciate the amount of time and energy put into sharing everything going on at the Newport Public Library.

 

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Z692 – Digital Connections

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Print information on accessing digital resources

To address the increasing needs for access beyond traditional print or physical materials, the Newport Public Library has developed a digital collection to meet an array of needs and interests. As I mentioned in an earlier post, one of the first things that I observed coming into the library was information on the variety of resources available to members of the library. Brochures on the use of Flipster, Hoopla, Libby (a Library2Go app) were all prominently displayed on the circulation desk. They are also featured on the website and well-established social media accounts.

In talking with Mrs. Eldridge, she said that eBooks are as popular as they one were, which doesn’t seem to be an uncommon sentiment among libraries in general. Both the website and the paper brochures feature step-by-step instructions on downloading and reading an eBook and the staff were welcoming to questions about the product, but it seems as though other digital access points were more popular.

The Newport Public Library is part of a consortium of two other public libraries called OceanBooks. It includes the Driftwood Public Library system located just north of Newport in Lincoln City and the Tillamook Public Library System with branches throughout neighboring Tillamook County. (An interesting side note: the academic library where I work is in a consortium called the Chinook Network with 2 other community college libraries and 3 small public libraries, but are not connected with our community’s own public library system: Tillamook). The digital access to the OceanBooks catalog is frequently accessed by members from their home or mobile devices. One area of the website that Mrs. Eldridge found imperative to keep updated to avoid calls from patrons was the new feature films part section of the catalog.

Other digital services that the library provides access to are The Oregonian, a newspaper, free with a library card and the Gale Databases, which provide access to scholarly articles and journals. Mrs. Eldridge said that the outreach department that works with the local school district promote the use of the Gale database with students during their outreach programs. The offer access to 34 other databases for a variety of research needs.

Some digital services have proved more successful than others and they are under regular evaluation. One program, AnswerLand, was removed from services after some changes were made by the company that no longer fit the needs of the Newport Public Library. They are also working on a better understanding of how to incorporate GoToMeeting to meet needs and expand programs. This constant tracking, discussion, and evaluation helps the Newport Public Library create comprehensive digital access to meet their community needs.

 

HM742 – They are EVERYWHERE

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Homepage of the Newport Public Library

“If all libraries were doing what we’re doing, it would be amazing.”

Lauren Lampasone with the New York Public Library (NYPL) was heralding the virtues of the content development and social media presence of the NYPL in a 2013 article in American Libraries. Of course, ALL libraries aren’t doing what they are doing, because ALL libraries don’t have the budget and staffing that the NYPL does. But the Newport Public Library has developed a strong web and social media presence through the collaboration of staff and good, ol’ fashioned time and effort.

Mrs. Eldridge is the main staff member responsible for the content and design of the website and plays a role in the social media presence, as well. The library can currently be found on Flickr, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. Looking through the sites you can find a frequent activity meant to actively engage the users and members of the community. There is utilization of tags, such as #BookFaceFriday and #NewportReads2018, to both encourage users to tag their own photos or posts and to create metadata for tracking.

Mrs. Eldridge noted that many of the new staff and volunteers have been using social media for years. Coming into a position with experience and knowledge reduces the learning curve and the training that may need to be provided. She did note that there is a certain informality to how the information is collected and posted and there isn’t a developed internal policy on the matter. With that being said, there are certain ethics that are followed and decisions that are made based on the fact that these social media accounts represent the library, the city, and the community.

In viewing the social media presence of the library, there is a great representation of all facets of the library service, as well as a broad range of interests that the community may have. It is one of the stronger social media presences that I’ve encountered for that size of staff and community and I think there is a benefit in making the library feel more accessible and familiar through the use of social media.

The library website, while designed to mimic the branding established by the City of Newport, has it’s own unique impact using the bento-box style. It’s comprehensive in the information that is provided and is updated frequently. Mrs. Eldridge has a background in programming, which made her familiar with the needs for updating and maintaining the page. It’s been redesigned three times since Mrs. Eldridge has been on the staff. She uses a combination of programs to maintain the site including Photoshop when creating graphics, Adobe, and HTML for programming.  She said it’s pretty straightforward with a “WYSIWYG  (wizz-e-wig) – what you see is what you get” kind of process. There isn’t a formality in how the page is updated with staff generally just letting her know via e-mail or face-to-face about upcoming events that should be added or featured on the site.

T58.5 – The Space Between the Stacks

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I arrived at the Newport Public Library about 15 minutes before my scheduled meeting time with Mrs. Eldridge, so I took the opportunity to explore and observe. Like most public libraries, the larger municipality, in this case the City of Newport, is the governing agency.

The library is just a few blocks from the beach and a large fireplace in the center of the largest room on the first floor creates a warm, homey feel to the space. The circulation desk is prominent just inside the outside doors and next to the desk was a smaller desk staffed by a security officer. I found out later from Mrs. Eldridge that the library had seen a decrease in visitors due to drug activity and other illicit behaviors, so the city chose to staff the library with a security officer during operating hours. She noted that there had since been a decrease in the behavior that precipitated the decision.

At the circulation desk was a self-checkout station and information on the digital resources offered by the library, including Hoopla and Flipster. We would discuss the digital resources available to patrons in more detail later in the tour. In the seating areas throughout the library, there were tables with access to electrical outlets attached to the tables. In other places throughout the space there were charging stations, which featured charges for various make and model of cell phones or devices. Patrons are responsible for their own devices, so these stations were intentionally placed in locations that allowed for close monitoring during other activities, such as near the public use computers.

The 16 public use computers were located on the second floor and could be used up to two hours per day per person. Access was tracked through a users library card. Guest passes were available for visitors without library cards and the time was limited to 45 minutes a day. The current operating system on these computers is Windows 7, but there a plans to upgrade to Windows 10 in the future. Mrs. Eldridge also mentioned that the library was considering wireless printing if the they could find it in the budget.

After my initial exploration, I had the chance to meet with Mrs. Eldridge, who started the tour in the back room, which was the staff area, and then proceeded to take me on a guided tour of the space. In addition to the technology and physical characteristics of the space I had observed, she was able to point out or take me into other technology-rich spaces that I hadn’t initially observed.

This included a meeting room located on the second floor that was used for library programs or could be reserved for use by the public. This space included a podium with a audio/visual (AV) system that controlled access to the projector mounted to the ceiling. Before acquiring this technology, the library staff would have to manually set-up the technology needed for the programs held in that room. It was time consuming and an almost constant need for troubleshooting as it required the physical set-up and take down of the equipment each time. Now with this permanent station, everything was controlled from one space and it allowed for easier preparation for programs, such as movie night and was more intuitive for use by the public. This set-up, along with a set of laptops, allows for classes such as how to use Excel, Word, Facebook, or databases. There is an ongoing discussion about eventually loaning the laptops as part of the collection.

Another area that I did not find in my own tour was the teen space. This space was relatively new and was the result of the relocation of some offices. The teen space includes a large flat screen TV where teens can play video games after checking out controllers. This gives them a safe place to be and access to technology that many don’t have in their own homes. This is a space for community and fun.

There are many other areas of technology throughout the library including computers in the children’s area with age-appropriate programs and filters for security, a large TV in the front lobby across from the circulation desk that allows for promotion of events and communication, a mobile library catalog computer that can be moved to different areas in the stacks, and a collection that includes audiobooks, playaways, and DVDs.

Z668 – A Library Education Begins

Newport Public Library sign
A nice day for a visit to the library. (Oregon coast speak for: it’s raining. Again.)

I introduced my second library technology tour with a comparison between Eugene, the location of my last tour, and Newport. Two communities separated by about 100 miles, but with individual identities that guide the library service that the staff strive to provide.

I contacted the library through their website, using a general ‘Ask a Librarian’ e-mail address in the hopes it would be properly directed. In a matter of a day, I was contacted by Sheryl Eldridge, the Reference/Technology Librarian at the Newport Public Library. We were able to coordinate a time for the visit in the coming week and I provided her with the questions a few days before the visit.

I chose to use a bulk of the questions I previously posed to the Eugene Public Library staff, not only for a true comparison, but also as a result of my experience of the questions being the basis for larger conversations and indepth discussions. I did choose to add some questions specific to social media and the interaction of the public with the library in the world of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and the myriad of other digital networking options.

Part of the purpose for the inclusion of these was my own interest for a technology proposal that encompasses not only a final assignment for my course, but will be the backbone of a proposal my library will make for the redesign of our own website and reestablishment of an autonomous Facebook page (outside of our institution page).

  1. What is the community of Newport like? Describe your patrons and their needs.
  2. How long have you worked with the Newport Public Library?
  3. What type of technologies are available for patrons to use IN the library?
  4. What type of technologies can be used by patrons OUTSIDE the library?
  5. What type of Internet-based services are provided for patrons?
  6. Who manages the technology? If there are multiple staff members, what does that collaboration look like?
  7. How much of the overall budget (proportionally) is spent on technology, including devices, databases, and software?
  8. What type of systems are used? Are they up-to-date?
  9. What type of training is provided to those directly working with technology?
  10. Is there training provided to staff not directly working with this technology?
  11. Who maintains the website?
  12. What type of social media is used by library staff?
  13. How is social media utilized by staff?
  14. Is the library automated? If so, which system is used?
  15. Do you have policies and forms related to technology?
  16. How often are these assessed and modified?
  17. How does technology get repaired? Is this done in house or sent out?
  18. Are fines assessed to damaged technology items?
  19. Is your physical space conducive to the technology uses and needs? Have there been any modifications to accommodate?
  20. What kind of assistive technologies are provided? Are they available for check-out?
  21. What do you think works well?
  22. What do you think can be improved on?

(I should also note the shift in classification systems. My first post remained tried and true to Dewey – a decision made on my touring a public library and my own comfort. However, since my previous tour, I’ve taken a position in an academic library and I’m working on developing my Library of Congress (LOC) knowledge, so it seemed more appropriate to shelve my posts in this new manner).

307.7 – We’re Not All The Same

I started the conversation about my last technology tour of a library with poetic waxing on purpose. The idea that my nerdiness was purpose enough without the help of a required assignment. This time is slightly different.

Oh, I’m still a nerd. Maybe even more so. And there is an assignment involved as I complete my last semester as an Information and Library Science student at the University of Maine – Augusta (senioritis be damned). But this time my technology tour comes with layers on top of that purpose.

With two more semesters and an entirely new library position stacked on my shelf (I will not apologize for library puns), this tour will provide me with an opportunity to develop deeper connections and knowledge on the use of technology in all aspects of librarianship and the impact that the ever-changing landscape has on library users and, us, the library staff.

This week I have the opportunity to tour the main branch of the Newport Public Library in Newport, Oregon. Supervising Librarian Sheryl Eldridge enthusiastically agreed to undertake my barrage of questions and will provide me with a tour of technology services in the Newport Public Library. It should be noted that although I am touring a public library like last time, there are many differences in the two communities and I’m making the assumptions that these different communities require different needs in the technology and related services that are provided.

Although less than 100 miles apart, Eugene and Newport are significantly different communities. Each of the factors (plus many more) listed in the chart below impact the type of service that community members are looking for from their library.

Community Comparison

A more detailed comparison on the library’s themselves will be included in the next post. These community figures don’t speak to the intricacies and individuality that make our towns and neighborhoods the places we call home, but they begin to tell the story of why it’s important that libraries represent their communities rather than follow prescribed templates on service.

 

 

 

395.3 – Gratitude

We’ve reached the end of this portion of my journey.

Sad, I know.

But it’s probably the most important component of a journey and that is gratitude. So thank you to the Eugene Public Library and, especially, Adult Services Supervisor, Lorie Vik for sharing the library space with me, both literally and figuratively.

I gained an incredible amount of insight into the possibilities and realizations that libraries can offer staff and patrons. As a library student, and one who will be the first to admit, lacking a bit in technology education, I am excited about the community creating services that libraries are offering.

So, one last time, THANK YOU to EPL for opening my world just a little bit more.