diverse collections and inspiring resources
These are wild and rapidly changing times for libraries. Not since Gutenberg invented the printing press have the concepts of the book and libraries undergone such a radical transformation. Additionally, with the rise of e-books and the proliferation of Smartphones and e-readers, both the delivery of information services and the role of library staff are changing. This change was on the minds of citizens who took part in engagement this summer on the new Central Library.
Phase one of public engagement about the new Central Library asked the participant about their priorities for both the new Central Library and the library system. Based on the results, we know Calgarians have strong opinions about both the collections of their local library, as well as the staff which support them. In the survey, 57 per cent of the comments were related to collections. The second highest ranked priority for the new Central Library was “Information Experts” – staff who can ensure that everyone is able to access the information they need. This discussion paper outlines some of the major trends influencing the transformation of libraries’ collections and staffing resources.
If you ask most people what they think of when they hear the word “library,” they will say “books”. In fact the word “library” itself is derived from Anglo-French, meaning a “place for books.” Today the Calgary Public Library is much more than a place for books; it offers a variety of collections –from DVDs to magazines to e-books – all that make up the foundation of which the Library builds its programs and services. Accessible to all ages and abilities, the diverse collections are the resource to which many Calgarians turn to satisfy their reading, information, listening and viewing needs.
Library staff are integral to ensuring Calgarians are able to access the right information or material at the right time. Whether the information is found within Library’s collection or not, Library staff support the learning and growth of Calgarians of every age, ability ethnic origin and financial capacity. Library staff support city-wide delivery of library services, which includes access to collections and information services, connectivity to the Internet and wireless services, and delivering enriched programming including One Book One Calgary, a city-wide Library initiative designed to promoting reading, dialogue and community engagement.
The publishing industry has a direct impact on the business of libraries as it affects the provision of content to customers of a library. When the Calgary Public Library buys a physical copy of a book, that book is owned by the Library. When the Library purchases access to an e-book, that transaction is viewed as a lease agreement between the Library and the content provider. The Library simply pays to have access to the material and does not own it. If the content is taken down, the Library no longer has access to it and neither do customers.
Library customers still have to wait for holds on digital items because one license of an e-book is the equivalent of one copy of a physical book. OverDrive is the e-book service used by libraries, which allows library customers to download e-books directly to their e-reading device. Some publishers have introduced loan limits for each of their books they license to the e-book vendor, OverDrive (Source: http://www.thedigitalshift.com/2012/02/ebooks/one-year-later-harpercollins-sticking-to-26-loan-cap-and-some-librarians-rethink-opposition/).
Other publishers have pulled out of OverDrive, therefore stopping sales of their e-books to libraries (Source: http://www.quillandquire.com/blog/index.php/2012/02/10/penguin-pulls-out-of-overdrive-stops-ebook-sales-to-libraries/). This has a significant impact on a library’s ability to provide the content that customers are looking for, when it is beyond the control of the library as to whether or not material is available in the format customers are seeking.
Although e-books currently account for a small segment of the publishing market, sales and production are increasing exponentially (Source: http://www.omdc.on.ca/industry_profiles/pdfs/booksEng.pdf). The biggest game changers in the rise of e-books are improved handheld devices like iPads and Smartphones. Downloadable formats of collections provide many advantages for libraries over traditional formats including: 24/7 service to customers, speedy turnaround on orders, no physical media to break, no wasted time on the holds shelf and no overdue or billed items.
A relatively new invention called the Espresso Book Machine can instantly download a digital file, print and bind it as a paperback allowing people to print books on demand. The machine makes the costs incurred for traditional publishing, warehousing and shipping of books increasingly unnecessary. This has a direct impact on the library’s traditional model of lending print materials. In addition to printing personal manuscripts, the Machine allows customers to choose from a database of 8 million titles that are typically in the public domain or available from publishers for purchase and print (Source: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203370604577265763359583758.html).
In addition to radical changes in the publishing industry, the entertainment industry is also being transformed. Specifically, the popularity of online music streaming websites such as SoundCloud and popular streaming video sites such as Netflix, have changed the way we expect to access these forms of entertainment. CDs and DVDs are being replaced by these sites, resulting in the library’s need to move away from the traditional lending model of CDs and DVDs.
Consumers of music are moving away from CDs to online streaming sites. In the United States, Pandora and Spotify are popular online streaming sites, and in Canada CBC has started its own online music streaming site. This change in how people choose to consume this type of entertainment is having an impact on the development and use of CD collections in libraries. Libraries have access to streaming sites (such as NAXOS) which tend to focus less on pop music and more on classical, jazz and world music. Some libraries are experimenting with subscriptions to Freegal Music which allows users to download a certain number of Sony Music Canada songs (in Canada) in an MP3 format each week.
While DVDs are extremely popular items and still have a high circulation, it is evident that this format is undergoing significant changes. Over the past year we have seen Rogers and Blockbuster disappear from the business of lending DVDs. The rise of sites and services like Netflix that allow people to stream content to their computer, television, or other device has taken over as a more popular way of consuming this entertainment. The collapse of Rogers and Blockbuster calls into question how long DVDs will continue to be produced. This means at some point libraries will no longer be able to purchase DVDs. Yet some library customers will still want to consume this medium through the library. Most likely how the consumption of movies and video will happen in the future will be much different than it is now.
Remote Access to Collections
With the emergence of new technologies, including e-books and digital content, people seek and use information in new ways. Customers no longer have to come into the library to access collections and resources, or to register for programs. The Calgary Public Library provides a chat and email reference service, allowing Calgarians to engage with knowledgeable staff without leaving their home. This is an important shift in the way the Library interacts with customers and allows the Library to meet customers on their own terms.
The Library offers a wide variety of services remotely. These include OverDrive, an e-book service, which allows Library customers to download e-books directly to their e-reading device. OverDrive also has a wide selection of audio books so customers no longer have to take out books on CD. Naxos is a music database that allows users to stream music directly from the Library website on their home computer. Newspaper Direct PressDisplay is an online newspaper source which allows library customers to read daily news from around the world. Over 230 newspapers are accessible in full-color, full-page format. The newspapers are viewable as soon as they are published and are available in English and other languages.
The Rise of the Social Customer
Now that customers are accessing information from home, they need a virtual way to interact with Library staff. Users are looking for meaningful real time connections with staff but in a virtual setting. Using social media means that Library customers are able to easily share information and other content which allows the Library to have a broader reach in to the community.
Collections and staff will always be at the core of library business; however both the collections and the role of staff when the new Central library opens will be very different than it is today. The materials themselves, no matter what the format, will transition from a product to an experience, and the role of staff will change from gate keepers of information to content experts and animators, IT service providers and community collaborators.
Over 12,000 Calgarians provided the input that identified “Diverse Collections and Inspiring Resources” as an important topic to explore. Now it’s your turn to help us “Dig Deep!” into this theme. Please join us at our public events and learn more here on our website.
Questions to consider for future libraries
• How can library staff help support your experience and use of the library of the future?
• What would increase your use of the Library’s various collections?