January 2013 Report

Library Director’s Report- January 2013

I wanted to give you an update on the automated materials handling  (AMH) project at Redwood Shores.

Construction : 2/8 – 2/15

  • Wall will be modified for the external induction units and inside wall will be modified for the AMH path
  • Library staff is working on a process for materials check-in during 2/8 – 2/15

Layout of AMH :  2/5

  • 3M and project team will layout blue tape where the AMH will live and mark required locations for electrical and data

Electrical and Data : 2/8 – 2/15

  • City will move electrical and data

Delivery of AMH : 2/15

  • Machine is scheduled to arrive

AMH Installation : 2/18 – 2/22

  • Because Monday 2/18 is a Holiday, staff will arrive early on 2/18 to let 3M in and begin installation of the induction units. Installation will take approximately four days but we are giving the project plan a few extra days in case of technical challenges

Training and go live: 2/25

  • 3M will provide staff training on 2/25. Staff will train the public over the next several weeks similar to the new self-checkout machines. Staff will be stationed outside, helping customers with their returns through the new induction units.

We will be accepting all materials through the AMH, not just RFID items. The reason for this recommendation is due to the check-in layout and the complexity of PLS.  While sharing materials amongst PLS members it’s a great advantage, it does come with its challenges; many or most libraries in PLS have not tagged all materials, materials with too much metal, College materials not on RFID, and SMPL’s folio tags can only be read by Techlogic. These exceptions will not be accepted in an RFID only configuration and these materials would be required to be checked-in via a book drop. As you know, the AMH induction units are far from the manual book drop requiring patrons to bring the materials inside or walk down to the manual book drop and this after figuring out why the AMH is not accepting the material! This process will create frustration and affect customer service. We would like the launch of the AMH to be welcoming by both patrons and staff. To accomplish this, we need to minimize hurdles as much as possible so it’s a positive experience.

The automated materials system and lobby redesign at the Downtown Library is in the planning stages. Staff has participated in workshops giving input on customer flow, service points and locations of the induction units. The architect has done a structural analysis of the original brick (hidden) wall to see if an opening is feasible for conveyor systems to pass through. The preliminary plan is to have two induction units in the lobby where the book return slots are now and one or two outside to the right of the front door (as you are facing the building) through the existing window. The service desks would be combined and possibly relocated back against the wall under the TV monitor. This would open up the front lobby area for better customer queuing and traffic flow, and give the library a less cluttered feel as one enters the building. Once plans are finalized, the lobby redesign will go forward before the AMH is installed, which is dependent on the schedule of PLS and other libraries install dates.

Discover & Go, our free museum pass program, first six month statistics:

553 Passes were used by Redwood City cardholders this fiscal year, to date.

About half of the passes were family passes, entitling 3 free family members to visit the venue, so is it fair to say that the participation rate was probably more than a 1,000. 815 reservations were made, so the rate of cancellation or just not using passes was 39.5% overall, and varied with the time of year. Much credit is due to promoting the program and in simplifying Web access.

Popular venues most often visited: Aquarium of the Bay, Exploratorium, Marine Mammal Center, Tech Museum, Oakland Museum, Asian Art Museum, Lawrence Hall of Science. Others included:  Cartoon Art Museum, USS Hornet Museum, Napa Valley Museum, Contemporary Jewish Museum, Pacific Pinball Museum, UC Botanical Garden, Bay Area Discovery Museum, Vallejo Naval and Historical Museum) as well as local venues (CuriOdyssey).

The Food for Fines program collected over 10,000 pounds of food and waived $17,000 in fines, clearing 1,200 accounts—a 50% increase from last year. Remember the more accounts we clear, the more use our library receives and interestingly, our fine collection also increases!

Last month, Forbes published the second article in a two-part series on the changing role of libraries. Public Libraries Matter: And How They Can Do More  covers a broad terrain and, crucially, celebrates the library’s role as an “integral part of the fragile ecosystem of reading in America” and as an essential community anchor for civic engagement, job-seeking and other essential activities.

Throughout the article, the role and relevance of libraries across the United States is strongly touted as are the hurdles libraries face in the age of e-books.

Reader responses are fascinating including this one:

“I loved your comprehensive call to action. Our town has proactive librarians that read for pleasure, and in turn recommend for every age group in our family…I especially appreciated your reminder that despite the tech boom, libraries are still the heart of the community – all walks of life borrow books and music, check out cookbooks and movies, catch up with the New Yorker or American Girl Magazine, get help with homework, further their interest in birding or knitting – all thanks to their library. Libraries are not a destination, they are the transportation. The Grand Central Station of every great city and town. We have Benjamin Franklin to thank for that.”

IMLS 2010 Public Library Survey Results Announced

Libraries doing more with less – Local government taking larger funding role

Washington, DC—Public libraries served 297.6 million people throughout the United States, a number that is equivalent to 96.4 percent of the total U.S. population, according to new research by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). In 2010, there were 8,951 public libraries in the 50 states and the District of Columbia with 17,078 public library branches and bookmobiles.
IMLS today released the 2010 Public Libraries in the United States Survey, an analysis of the most comprehensive annual data collection of U.S. public library statistics. Nationally, public libraries have seen reductions in operating revenue, service hours, and staffing. Numbers for circulation, program attendance, and computer use continue to trend upward.

This is the first federal statistical report on public libraries to go beyond a national level analysis to report on trends at the local, regional, and state levels. The report identifies indicators in three areas: services and operations, resources, and workforce. To provide a more complete picture of library service in the U.S., the report provides a snapshot for each state, describing characteristics of library service.

“Public libraries in America continue as strong anchors for their communities, valued by the people they serve and striving to meet the changing needs of their service populations,” said IMLS Director Susan Hildreth. “The survey reports decreasing levels of state and federal funding for public libraries, with local support providing a greater portion of funding than ever before.”

“Trends to watch,” continued Hildreth, “include public libraries increasing the number of non-print materials in their collections; offering more access to computers and computer resources; providing more public programs; and diversifying collections, including increasing numbers of e-books.”

“Public libraries continue to be an essential service for the nation’s children. The study finds that attendance at children’s programs reached 60.50 million and circulation of children’s materials increased 28.3 percent over the last ten years.”

Highlights from the Report

Public Library Services and Operations

  • Public libraries offered 3.75 million programs to the public in FY 2010, which amounts to an average of at least one program a day for every library system in the country. The majority of these programs (61.5%) are designed for children. Attendance at programs has continued to rise, indicating an increased demand for these services.
  • Public libraries circulated 2.46 billion materials in FY 2010, the highest circulation in 10 years, representing a continued increasing trend. Circulation of children’s materials has increased by 28.3 percent in the last 10 years and comprises over one-third of all materials circulated in public libraries.
  • The composition of public library collections has changed dramatically in recent years. While books in print continue to dominate the physical portion of the collection, making up 87.1 percent of the total in FY 2010, the share of non-print materials, including audio and video materials and electronic books, has increased. The number of e-books has tripled since FY 2003. In FY 2010, there were 18.50 million e-books available for circulation.
  • Public access computer use continued to be one of the fastest growing services in public libraries. In FY 2010, public libraries reported a computer use rate of more than one use for every five visits to the library. Public libraries have responded to demand by increasing access, doubling the number of public computers in the past 10 years.
  • Physical visits to libraries decreased 1.1 percent in 2010. (Note: the survey does not collect data on online visits or transactions of public libraries.) Physical visits remain strong with an overall 10-year increase of 32.7 percent from FY 2001-FY 2010. On average, Americans visited a public library 5.3 times per year, a ten-year increase of 21.7 percent.

Public Library Resources

  • Public libraries had $11.3 billion in revenue in FY 2010, a decrease of 3.5 percent from FY 2009, after adjusting for inflation. Although local governments have generally been the largest source of revenue for public libraries, they have had to take on an even larger role as state support declined over 10 years.
  • Public libraries reported operating expenditures of $10.77 billion dollars in FY 2010, the first decrease since FY 2001. Although expenditures across all U.S. public libraries were $36.18 per capita, per-capita expenditures varied greatly by state, with spending as low as $15.99 and as high as $67.78.

Public Library Workforce

  • The recession has had an impact on the public library workforce, which has decreased by 6,385 Full Time Equivalent (FTE) staff since FY 2008, a decrease of 3.9 percent. Staff-related expenditures were $7.21 billion, 67.0 percent of public library expenses in FY 2010.
  • Librarians made up one-third of all library staff. Although the majority of these librarians hold a Master’s degree in Library Science from a program accredited by the American Library Association (ALA-MLS), only half of all libraries reported having a librarian with an ALA-MLS on staff.

A copy of the FY 2010 Public Library Survey can be accessed online at:http://www.imls.gov/research/public_libraries_in_the_us_fy_2010_report.aspx .

Researchers may also access the collected data online at: http://www.imls.gov/research/public_libraries_in_the_united_states_survey.a?spx .

Link to blog post by IMLS Director Susan Hildreth.

About the Institute of Museum and Library Services
The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. Our mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. Our grant making, policy development, and research help libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive. To learn more, visit http://www.imls.gov or follow @US_IMLS on Twitter.


October-December 2012 Report

Library Director’s Report- October-December 2012

Redwood City Library Earns Five-Star Rating

Lisa Fernandez and Marianne Favro

See video at http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/Redwood-City-Library-Earns-Five-Star-Rating-182441191.html

The Redwood City Library announced this week it won a five-star rating from the Library Journal Index of Public Library Service, the premier public library national rating system instituted by the Library Journal. Marianne Favro reports.

Some are calling it the “French Laundry” of libraries.

The Redwood City Library announced this week it won a five-star rating from the Library Journal Index of Public Library Service, the premier public library national rating system instituted by the Library Journal.

That makes the library on Middlefield Road the top-rated library in San Mateo County, and also the top-rated library among all mid-sized and large libraries in the entire country, meaning that Redwood City beat out Los Angeles and New York.

“I’m very proud of our library staff, and I urge our entire community to share in congratulating them on this great honor,” said Redwood City Mayor Alicia Aguirre said in a statement. “We have worked hard to make the library a cutting-edge, engaging, and inviting place for the community. This rating really recognizes our success, and shines a wonderful national spotlight on our library, and our city.”

Aside from books, DVDS and the regular stuff that libraries offer, this library also offers library offers an e-reader “petting zoo” to give devices a try. There are also 1,400 volunteers who spend their time helping patrons enjoy their library time.

Mother Lisa Espy loves coming with her children every week. “I love that it is so open and fun and the kids can run around,” she said. She appreciates the wide diversity of books and computer games her children can utilize.

Only two libraries in California achieved the five star rating, and Redwood City’s received the highest numerical score. Santa Monica was the other library.

Scores are based on per capita measurements including number of items borrowed, number of visits, number and types of programs offered, attendance at activities, level of public Internet use, and other elements. Library officials pointed out that this means that the library’s exemplary ranking is also a recognition that the people of Redwood City are very involved and engaged with their library, taking full advantage of all the wonderful programs and materials available.

Only two libraries in California got five stars, with Redwood City’s gaining the highest numerical score in the state. Only six other library systems in the San Francisco Bay Area were star rated at all, with Redwood City the only one getting the top rank of five stars.

Daily Journal




A library worth checking out

By Michelle Durand

If libraries were comparable to highly-ranked restaurants, the Redwood City facility would be the French Laundry, Alinea and El Bulli all rolled into one.

Fortunately for patrons of the Redwood City branch, they need neither a reservation two months out or a tall stack of hundreds as bribery for a seat inside.

The Redwood City Library announced this week it is the recipient of a five-star rating from the Library Journal Index of Public Library Service, making it one of only two statewide with such high marks and the top-rated of any size for the entirety of California.

That’s right; not one of the libraries, but “the” library. Take a bow, Redwood City!

Not to knock any of San Mateo County’s other libraries, but Redwood City is in pretty sparse company locally, according to the journal.

The San Mateo County Library made the cut with four stars which is certainly nothing to sneeze at but five stars? Now that’s really saying something.

Frankly, I’m not sure exactly what the Library Journal Index of Public Library Service is but in an announcement by Redwood City Library Director Dave Genesy he calls it the premier national rating system. Who am I to quibble with that?

The rating is pretty awesome for several reasons, primarily the proof that people still read actual books. Sure, many folks probably look to the library for lots of other needs — a parental breather during children’s reading hour, pilfering of free WiFi, perusing a cornucopia of magazines to keep up on the latest Robert Pattinson and Kirsten Stewart scandal, the downloading of e-books onto readers and movies onto tablets. Did you know the library offers an e-reader “petting zoo” to give the devices a try? And Wii gaming? This is not the library of my youth. But somehow, actual bound books are still the backbone of a brick-and-mortar library.

In all fairness, books themselves aren’t the only reason for the five-star ranking. The score also includes per capita measures of how many things are borrowed, how many people visit, the types of programs, public Internet use and attendance at events. Taken together, this means the people in Redwood City must really like their library. Heck, they must love their library.

Now the challenge for the Redwood City Library is maintaining. The biggest problem with being the best is remaining the best.

On the other hand, the county’s other libraries have the challenge of netting those stars. The journal concedes its own ratings have nothing to do with quality, excellence or service to the community. Those intangibles are near impossible to put a price on.

That said, there are a few things the other branches might consider doing to drum up attention. Hot librarians, for one. Sure, it’s a cliché. It may also perk up those attendance levels. Extra credit if those librarians can find new and inventive ways to tell loud patrons to “Ssssh!”

A new cataloging system is also a nice touch. Dewey Decimal is so yesterday. Let’s go with straight alphabetical. Or colored spines. Number of pages. You get the idea.

Then again, vintage is pretty popular. Perhaps a return to microfiche, just for old times sake? Doing so could also increase the number of library visits because patrons will need that much more time to figure out how to actually use microfiche. Same goes with card catalogs and encyclopedias — hey, what are those?

Or, gimmicks aside, maybe those who haven’t checked out any of the county’s libraries lately should give them a whirl. Stars are fantastic but a personal visit is probably the best, and certainly the most personal, way to see how they stack up.

RCPL director, Dave Genesy, stated in a personal interview (October 3, 2012) that he would like to see the library perceived in terms of its community value. Genesy describes what the board and library are trying to achieve in relation to the community and City Hall: Everything we do, we need to say the reason why we’re doing it. Here’s a story time for babies, why are we doing this? We have a computer lab for the public, why do we have that? … It’s important to know the community value, not the library value, because we speak a different language that people don’t understand. We talk about education so that kids can be successful in school, so they can grow up and be engaged citizens. It’ll make police and social services have less work, it’ll get kids ready to have job skills that will be local, it helps the local economy, helps downtown, helps the home prices…so when you tell that community story, that’s how you position the library. So it’s not just story time, it is starting early to get our kids and families reading and learning.… Not everyone in our city uses the library, but hopefully they know the value of it. That a healthy successful community has a healthy successful library.

December 27, 2012

New York Times

Libraries See Opening as Bookstores Close


At the bustling public library in Arlington Heights, Ill., requests by three patrons to place any title on hold prompt a savvy computer tracking system to order an additional copy of the coveted item. That policy was intended to eliminate the frustration of long waits to check out best sellers and other popular books. But it has had some unintended consequences, too: the library’s shelves are now stocked with 36 copies of “Fifty Shades of Grey.”By KAREN ANN CULLOTTA

At the bustling public library in Arlington Heights, Ill., requests by three patrons to place any title on hold prompt a savvy computer tracking system to order an additional copy of the coveted item. That policy was intended to eliminate the frustration of long waits to check out best sellers and other popular books. But it has had some unintended consequences, too: the library’s shelves are now stocked with 36 copies of “Fifty Shades of Grey.”

Of course, librarians acknowledge that when patrons’ passion for the sexy series lacking in literary merit cools in a year or two, the majority of volumes in the “Fifty Shades” trilogy will probably be plucked from the shelves and sold at the Friends of the Library’s used-book sales, alongside other poorly circulated, donated and out-of-date materials.

“A library has limited shelf space, so you almost have to think of it as a store, and stock it with the things that people want,” said Jason Kuhl, the executive director of the Arlington Heights Memorial Library. Renovations will turn part of the library’s first floor into an area resembling a bookshop that officials are calling the Marketplace, with cozy seating, vending machines and, above all, an abundance of best sellers.

As librarians across the nation struggle with the task of redefining their roles and responsibilities in a digital age, many public libraries are seeing an opportunity to fill the void created by the loss of traditional bookstores. They are increasingly adapting their collections and services based on the demands of library patrons, whom they now call customers.

Today’s libraries are reinventing themselves as vibrant town squares, showcasing the latest best sellers, lending Kindles loaded with e-books, and offering grass-roots technology training centers. Faced with the need to compete for shrinking municipal finances, libraries are determined to prove they can respond as quickly to the needs of the taxpayers as the police and fire department can.

“I think public libraries used to seem intimidating to many people, but today, they are becoming much more user-friendly, and are no longer these big, impersonal mausoleums,” said Jeannette Woodward, a former librarian and author of “Creating the Customer-Driven Library: Building on the Bookstore Model.”

“Public libraries tread a fine line,” Ms. Woodward said. “They want to make people happy, and get them in the habit of coming into the library for popular best sellers, even if some of it might be considered junk. But libraries also understand the need for providing good information, which often can only be found at the library.”

Cheryl Hurley, the president of the Library of America, a nonprofit publisher in New York “dedicated to preserving America’s best and most significant writing,” said the trend of libraries that cater to the public’s demand for best sellers is not surprising, especially given the ravages of the recession on public budgets.

Still, Ms. Hurley remains confident that libraries will never relinquish their responsibility to also provide patrons with the opportunity to discover literary works of merit, be it the classics, or more recent fiction from novelists like Philip Roth, whose work is both critically acclaimed and immensely popular.

“The political ramifications for libraries today can result in driving the collection more and more from what the people want, rather than libraries shaping the tastes of the readers,” Ms. Hurley said. “But one of the joys of visiting the public library is the serendipity of discovering another book, even though you were actually looking for that best seller that you thought you wanted.”

“It’s all about balancing the library’s mission and its marketing, and that is always a tricky dance,” she added.

While print books, both fiction and nonfiction, still make up the bulk of most library collections — e-books amount to to less than 2 percent of many collections in part because some publishers limit their availability at libraries — building renovation plans rarely include expanding shelf space for print products. Instead, many libraries are culling their collections and adapting floor plans to accommodate technology training programs, as well as mini-conference rooms that offer private, quiet spaces frequently requested by self-employed consultants meeting with clients, as well as teenagers needing space to huddle over group projects.

Though an increase in book weeding these days — a practice long known in library parlance as deselection — might be troubling to some bibliophiles, library officials say, many books enjoy a happy life after being sold.

A recent visit to the Friends of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County Warehouse Sale proved to be not unlike wandering into a reader’s nirvana for Jeff Borden, 61. A writer and adjunct professor from Chicago, Mr. Borden said he and his wife, Johanna Brandon, left the November sale with shopping bags brimming with an eclectic and bargain-priced assortment of fiction and nonfiction, including the noir novel “The Leopard,” by Jo Nesbo, and “Go Down Together: The True, Untold Story of Bonnie and Clyde” by Jeff Guinn.

“The books are piling up all over the house,” said Mr. Borden, who estimated that the couple spent about $50, money that officials said will be given to the library system to finance programs including its children’s story time.

“Great fiction is still being written, as well as rotten fiction,” Mr. Borden added. “To my way of thinking, you need to get them in the door of the library first, and if someone’s search for ‘Shades of Grey’ leads them to read D. H. Lawrence, well, that’s not a bad deal.”

Gretchen Caserotti, the assistant director for public services at the public library in Darien, Conn., said, “We are terrifically excited about the sea change at libraries, and rethinking our model in a new world.”

The Darien library has a three-requests policy similar to the one in Arlington Heights.

“The library should be as they say, a third place — you have home, work or school, and then you come to the library because it is the center and heart of the community,” Ms. Caserotti said. “Our staff is 100 percent committed to hospitality, customer service and welcoming people to the library as if they were visiting our home. We need to remember it is their library, not ours, and they are paying for it.”

The following responses discuss the previous article:


Wall Street Journal

Don’t Burn Your Books—Print Is Here to Stay


Lovers of ink and paper, take heart. Reports of the death of the printed book may be exaggerated.

A 2012 survey revealed that just 16% of Americans have actually purchased an e-book.

Ever since Amazon introduced its popular Kindle e-reader five years ago, pundits have assumed that the future of book publishing is digital. Opinions about the speed of the shift from page to screen have varied. But the consensus has been that digitization, having had its way with music and photographs and maps, would in due course have its way with books as well. By 2015, one media maven predicted a few years back, traditional books would be gone.

Half a decade into the e-book revolution, though, the prognosis for traditional books is suddenly looking brighter. Hardcover books are displaying surprising resiliency. The growth in e-book sales is slowing markedly. And purchases of e-readers are actually shrinking, as consumers opt instead for multipurpose tablets. It may be that e-books, rather than replacing printed books, will ultimately serve a role more like that of audio books—a complement to traditional reading, not a substitute.

How attached are Americans to old-fashioned books? Just look at the results of a Pew Research Center survey released last month. The report showed that the percentage of adults who have read an e-book rose modestly over the past year, from 16% to 23%. But it also revealed that fully 89% of regular book readers said that they had read at least one printed book during the preceding 12 months. Only 30% reported reading even a single e-book in the past year.

What’s more, the Association of American Publishers reported that the annual growth rate for e-book sales fell abruptly during 2012, to about 34%. That’s still a healthy clip, but it is a sharp decline from the triple-digit growth rates of the preceding four years.

The initial e-book explosion is starting to look like an aberration. The technology’s early adopters, a small but enthusiastic bunch, made the move to e-books quickly and in a concentrated period. Further converts will be harder to come by. A 2012 survey by Bowker Market Research revealed that just 16% of Americans have actually purchased an e-book and that a whopping 59% say they have “no interest” in buying one.

Meanwhile, the shift from e-readers to tablets may also be dampening e-book purchases. Sales of e-readers plunged 36% in 2012, according to estimates from IHS iSuppli, while tablet sales exploded. When forced to compete with the easy pleasures of games, videos and Facebook on devices like the iPad and the Kindle Fire, e-books lose a lot of their allure. The fact that an e-book can’t be sold or given away after it’s read also reduces the perceived value of the product.

Beyond the practical reasons for the decline in e-book growth, something deeper may be going on. We may have misjudged the nature of the electronic book.

From the start, e-book purchases have skewed disproportionately toward fiction, with novels representing close to two-thirds of sales. Digital best-seller lists are dominated in particular by genre novels, like thrillers and romances. Screen reading seems particularly well-suited to the kind of light entertainments that have traditionally been sold in supermarkets and airports as mass-market paperbacks.

These are, by design, the most disposable of books. We read them quickly and have no desire to hang onto them after we’ve turned the last page. We may even be a little embarrassed to be seen reading them, which makes anonymous digital versions all the more appealing. The “Fifty Shades of Grey” phenomenon probably wouldn’t have happened if e-books didn’t exist.

Readers of weightier fare, including literary fiction and narrative nonfiction, have been less inclined to go digital. They seem to prefer the heft and durability, the tactile pleasures, of what we still call “real books”—the kind you can set on a shelf.

E-books, in other words, may turn out to be just another format—an even lighter-weight, more disposable paperback. That would fit with the discovery that once people start buying digital books, they don’t necessarily stop buying printed ones. In fact, according to Pew, nearly 90% of e-book readers continue to read physical volumes. The two forms seem to serve different purposes.

Having survived 500 years of technological upheaval, Gutenberg’s invention may withstand the digital onslaught as well. There’s something about a crisply printed, tightly bound book that we don’t seem eager to let go of.

—Mr. Carr is the author of “The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains.”

A version of this article appeared January 5, 2013, on page C2 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Don’t Burn Your Books—Print Is Here to Stay.

Copyright 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved

 Pew: Younger Americans Reading More

By Meredith Schwartz on October 23, 2012

According to Younger Americans’ Reading and Library Habits, from the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, 83 percent of Americans aged 16-29 read a book in the past year, compared to 78 percent of all Americans over 16. High school and college age respondents were most likely to have done so—college aged adults have the highest overall reading rate of any age group—and adults aged 65 and older, least. Though of course much of younger adults’ reading is for school or work, about three-quarters say they read for pleasure or to keep up with current events.

When it comes to libraries, 60 percent of Americans under 30 have used one in the past year. By far the most common library users are high schoolers, at 72 percent. They’re also the only ones who are more likely to have borrowed the last book they read from the library than to have bought it, and most likely to get book recommendations. This is in addition to school library use (or academic library use, for college aged respondents): as Kathryn Zickuhr, Pew Research Analyst, emphasized to Gary Price of Infodocket.com, “in the survey, all questions asked about public library usage.”

However, despite their heavy usage, high schoolers are the least likely to say the library is important to them, at just over 50 percent. Library usage drops to 58 percent for those aged 18 to 24 and 54 percent for those aged 25-29, but as usage drops, value rises: almost three-quarters say that the library is important to them and their families.

The Kids Aren’t (All) Online

Despite all the talk about digital natives, the vast majority of readers aged 16-29—some 75 percent—have read a print book in the last year. Only 19 percent read an ebook, and 11 percent listened to an audiobook. And those younger readers who do read ebooks are most likely to read them on a laptop or desktop computer, at 55 percent. Cell phones came in second, at 41 percent; tablets were dead last at only 16 percent.

Dedicated ebook readers such as Kindles or Nooks only came in slightly higher, at 23 percent, but libraries have the potential to raise that number: 58 percent of those who don’t currently borrow ebooks from libraries say they would be “very” or “somewhat” likely to borrow pre-loaded e-readers if offered. Only 10 percent had borrowed an ebook from the library, perhaps because more than half, 52 percent, didn’t know they could (a finding confirmed by LJ’s recent Patron Profiles research). And being young doesn’t automatically mean patrons feel they know how to use technology: One third of those under age 30 say they would be “very” or “somewhat” likely to take a library class on how to download ebooks onto handheld devices, and almost as many would be “very” or “somewhat” likely to take a course at a library in how to use an e-reader or tablet computer.

However, the continuing predominance of print and the low rate of ebook borrowing from libraries doesn’t mean younger readers aren’t accessing econtent at all: 47 percent of younger readers read long-form econtent such as books, magazines, or newspapers, and 40 percent of those who did say that they now spend more time reading than they used to due to the availability of e-content. (High schoolers are less likely to have read an ebook, but more interested in checking out a pre-loaded reader.)

September 2012 Report


Library Director’s Report- September 2012

A Sequoia High School student project on safe and unsafe places in the community features the Downtown Library as one of the safe spaces in the city for teens.

Redwood City Public Library is partnering with the Redwood City School District and the San Mateo County Office of Education to give every public school in the county the opportunity to get a library card in the hands of every student. We of course will still do our KinderCard Campaign this year.

We have consistently held programs for job seekers this past year. A recap of the activity:

  • More than 1,000 community members have participated in 38 intensive programs at the Downtown Library.
  • One [Phase2 Careers] program participant said, “Thank you so much for scheduling me for mock interviews today. I received great resume and interviewing feedback…This was a great experience. I am now one step closer to achieving my career goals.”
  • Programs like “Job Search Review” give participants practice with public speaking and networking. Panelists addressed their particular situations, such as dealing with career expiration, and sometimes, there is a job lead offered by the panelist. These offers provide some of the most rewarding moments in programming for job seekers.
  • JobTrain and PeninsulaWorks partnerships have allowed us to introduce bilingual resume help, reaching out to more people in the community.
  • Topics have ranged from social networking, interviewing, resume help, career development, employment roundtable panels showcasing Bay Area companies and opportunities to access government services, such as EDD.
  • How we make it happen – Our Primary Partners:
    • Friends of the Library – Our Funders
    • Phase2 Careers – The mission of Phase2Careers is to assist the “Over 40” Worker in the Bay Area with finding new career opportunities through job search/career development workshops, networking / recruitment events, and special career presentations.
    • JobTrain – JobTrain typically offers daytime vocational programs, evening classes, and an assessment Center, as well as job placement counseling to our trainees, assistance with developing skills for conducting a job search, and help individuals learn the computer skills they need to find and keep a job.
    • Job Lab – staffed by volunteers with human resources experience, Job Lab offers help for adults with job searching, online applications and resume coaching.
    • JobScout – JobScout is an online learning platform that teaches basic Internet skills needed to find a job.
    • PeninsulaWorks, especially TOOLS programs – employment and training solutions in San MateoCounty. Our passion is helping job seekers and laid off workers, and those businesses that are in need of tapping into a diverse pool of talent to remain competitive.

The contract has been approved to hire an architect who will help design a more efficient lobby layout at the Downtown Library. more efficient lobby layout at the Downtown Library.

The Library Foundation held a benefactor’s circle donor event in September, kicking off their new campaign to raise funds for Project READ’s Kids in Partnership program. Several youth who are in the program spoke about their experience and I spoke about the importance of literacy including these points:

  • Being able to read is an essential skill for all learning and school success which in turn makes it better for public safety, jobs, the local economy, etc..
  • Reading begins at birth when parents and caregivers read to their babies.
  • By 2 years old, the brain has developed all the language capability needed for life—indeed, the cells and synapses where language is stored begin to die off after 2 years of life if not used!
  • The older the child (or adult) the more resource intensive it is to get them to reading proficiency.
  • One of the indices used by prison planning officials when estimating how many beds, cells, jail/prison space will be needed in the future is how many kids are proficient at reading by 5th grade!
  • There is a direct relationship between illiteracy and incarceration.
  • The illiteracy rate in our local jail is 90%! (that’s why the library works with inmates on this—both male and female).
  • This past year’s test scores show that only 42% of our Redwood CityPublic School 3rds graders reading at grade level!

The Friends of the Library voted to allocate $80,000 to fund various programs this year including adult author events, discover and go to museums, job help, children’s author events, online homework access, teen programs, family programs, the summer reading club, traveling storytime materials and the new baby and me program. The Library Foundation is funding additional author events and storytimes as well as raising funds for Project READ.

September was a busy month for Project READ’s Family Literacy Instructional Center, with over 50 youth learners dropping in for tutoring on our busiest nights. It’s a dynamic environment filled with positive energy from our families and tutors. This semester over 20 teen tutors are helping our youngest learners each week with reading and homework. Along with our community tutors and our Junior League partners, our families and youth learners are able to receive services throughout the week.

Project READ Teen Tutors

This month 10 new teen tutors graduated our training program and began tutoring right away, adding to the collaborative learning center. Many of our teens have been referring Project READ to friends and peers—an exciting way to start the school year! We are able to see siblings helping other siblings and families working alongside each other. Our teen tutors have become the core of FLIC and inspire others around them

The Atherton Town Council voted recently to approve a ballot measure on the plan to build a new Atherton Library in Holbrook-PalmerPark. Essentially Measure F asks residents to decide if they want a new library to replace the Main House in the park. The Town and Council is divided on this issue. Some residents that are opposed to the new library in the park have started a conversation about other options for library service. These include a mix of: privatization, withdrawing from the JPA, remodeling the current structure, having no library, and utilizing neighboring libraries. Information on Measure F is available at (the YouTube video has the information about utilizing Menlo Park and Redwood City Libraries):



According to current research, shortly after birth a baby’s brain contains more nerve cell connections (synapses) than he or she will ever use.

  • By the age of two, a child’s brain contains twice as many synapses as the brain of a normal adult.
  • Over time, the brain eliminates synapses that are seldom or never used.
  • It’s also been discovered that by the time babies reach their first birthday, they will have learned all the sounds needed to speak their native language.

Given those points, it’s therefore crucial to maximize the development of these young children during these important periods in their growth. And the best way to do this is through an early literacy program that encourages parents to take the time to read to their babies, beginning at birth.

The Traveling Storytime program has always attracted a number of young volunteers that go out to local preschools and home daycare centers in Redwood City to share their love of books and reading. Recently, there have been several young volunteers that have taken their involvement with Traveling Storytime to a much higher level. One 7th grader spent last year reading to the children at John Gill Elementary as part of her Mitzvot (“good deed”) for HebrewSchool. She also raised $150 as part of her program that she gave to the Traveling Storytime program to buy books for the new “Baby and Me at the Library”. Girl Scout Troop 61796 read at FootstepsChildCareCenter as part of the requirements for their Bronze Award. This summer they held a garage sale which resulted in a $250 donation to be used for the “Baby and Me at the Library” program and to develop a book bag on “Community Helpers” for the Traveling Storytime program. The third teen volunteer, a Boy Scout, started with the program two years ago and reads at a local preschool. He also organizes his troop each year to volunteer at the Kindercard program. Currently, this Boy Scout is planning his Eagle Scout project around the Traveling Storytime program. He is researching ways to raise enough money to buy books to distribute to groups of deserving Redwood City children that he reads to. It has been such an honor to be involved in the lives of these amazing and generous young adults. Hopefully this is just the beginning for them and that they continue to experience the joy of volunteering in their community!

San Mateo County is remodeling their side of the Fair Oaks facility and here is the latest update.

  • The project will start in early October 2012
  • It will take a couple of months and should be completed by mid December 2012.
  • They lobby area will be totally remodeled.
  • The public bathrooms will also be getting an upgrade and made more family friendly.
  • The Team will check with the FOCC to see if our customers can use their bathroom facilities during the time of the remodel.
  • The meeting rooms will be left in place for the moment.
  • The camera and monitor are on the list to get upgraded and replaced.

The Zoppe Circus will once again set up adjacent to the Downtown Library for two weeks in October. Parking Lot A will be closed.

PLS is researching bandwidth increases. There was a discussion on the impact ofwireless usage, the feasibility of user authentication for wireless, and the implications of providing wireless after hours and for other city/county facilities. PLAN staff will provide data regarding wireless and wired use across the system. Currently PLS is using up to 60% of the internet traffic share with SMCCD. There are pending requests from libraries for increased bandwidth, and we need to have an appropriate cost structure in place that reflects future needs. Also, There have been requests for extending the wireless signal to community buildings as well as leaving the signal on all night. Pat asked that a task force be formed to review the issues and make recommendations to the Council. The Council agreed that in the meantime, there will be no additional wireless access after hours.

We will be implementing a new mobile app called, Boopsie which allows access to features outside the ILS which will be maintained by local library staff for better local control. Boopsie provides each jurisdiction their own setup with their own colors and branding Each jurisdiction can market their jurisdiction’s information sitting under the PLS umbrella (purple branding page).

Boopsie Mobile App Info

  • Catalog Search Provides patrons with real-time access to your collection
  • ILS Integration for My Account Features Gives patrons the ability to manage their accounts, including placing holds and renewals Library Locator GPS-aware technology shares branch locations, hours of operation and contact information.
  • Ask a Library, with direct connection to staff via text, email or phone, customers can reach us from any location.
  • Calendar and Events anytime, anywhere access to your calendar of events, classes and computer lab schedules.
  • Additional Content Instantly connects customers to reading lists, homework resources and other content.
  • Easy access all other online services including Tutor.com and Mango.
  • Customers can stay up-to-date with the latest news via Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, YouTube, or blog posts, while interacting in real time by commenting, “liking” or re-tweeting directly from their mobile devices.
  • Customers can instantly check out a book, DVD or CD from anywhere within your library using their mobile devices, making any mobile device a self-checkout terminal.
  • One-click access to OverDrive titles, making it more efficient to find and download titles.
  • Customers can easily enter or scan the ISBN barcodes of books they find in bookstores, or even at a friend’s house, to see if they’re available at the library.
  • Directly access licensed services such as publisher reviews, bibliographic information and crowd-sourced sites, like GoodReads.com, from within the app.

August 2012 Report

Library Director’s Report- August 2012

The State of California severely reduced funding to all public library literacy programs. Our Project READ program’s Kid in Partnership and other programs were at risk of having to reduce the number of participants. The Library Foundation has stepped up and will be fundraising to fill the funding gap this year, giving us time to find sustainable revenue or redeploy existing resources to keep the programs whole in the future. Because of our wonderful support groups like the Foundation, more than 500 teens and young children will continue to be engaged in intensive learning, tutoring and mentoring.

Project READ distributed 260 very special Back to School Backpacks to the community’s most needy kids and families, just before school started in August. These backpacks offered students a great help as the new school year started, and gave them some of the basic tools to lead them to school success. Each backpack contained a variety of items that are on a student’s back to school list, like paper, pencils, some books, some fun surprises, and more. The filled back to school backpacks are donated by a variety of agencies, including Redwood City. This is such a nice thing to do for these kids in need, and will really help them to get started the right way in the new school year!

An update on the progress we are making with the new Baby and Me at the Library program. We are applying for a grant to cover costs for an on-going annual program at all four libraries. The Friends have been asked fund the books we will be giving to participants to build a home library. The pilot program will start on Friday, October 5 in the Program Room. The pilot will run for six weeks. The winter session will begin in January.  I am really excited about offering this new program to the families of Redwood City. All of the research that we have conducted for the grant proposal made it very clear that the earlier that we can expose young children to early literacy skills, the more likely they are to be successful readers. By involving the parents and caregivers in this instruction process insures a greater rate of success! The pilot program will involve twenty babies and their parents/caregivers.

The Summer Reading Club programs came to a rockin’ and rollin’ conclusion with zesty performances by local kids’ idol Andy Z. This summer the library offered its biggest slate of summer programs ever, eleven in all, continuing into August. Attendance records at each library were also shattered this year, with somewhere in the neighborhood of 6,000 people having shown up by the end of the series. It’s a good thing the gondolas at Schaberg had wheels this year and could be moved aside to accommodate the 200 people who jammed the place for Busy Bee Performing Dogs. The 200 people who crowded Fair Oaks for a glimpse of real wild animals with Wild Things had no such luck. Audience members who were a little leery about had no choice but to get up close with the lemur, magnificent great horned owl – and the alligator! Fortunately we can report that no kids were asked to volunteer as snacks during the Wild Things show. The quality and variety of this summer’s offerings were commented on by many happy parents, who clearly enjoyed the programs as much as their kids did. As always, all thanks go to the Friends of the Library, who support all our programming for children and families, and the Library Foundation, who supported our additional August events.

The library continues to be a community resource in new and novel ways. Last Saturday, what was originally thought to be a visit by a preschool group turned out to be a birthday party for a 3 year old and 7 of her friends and their families. The library provided a storytime, and the girls really wanted to know what happens to the books after you drop them into the return slot, so they got a behind-the-scenes tour of the check-in room. After the storytime and tour, the group continued their celebration on the back lawn, complete with lunch and cupcakes! Maybe we should add weddings to our roster of offerings. Somebody go get a minister’s license, quick!

Staff attended HooverCommunitySchool’s second annual, Nuestra Escuela: An Information Fair. We promoted library services to all families and passed flyers of the new extended day/early evening Family Learning Program. This program is a partnership of the Library with PD, Parks & Recreation, RWC2020 and HooverCommunitySchool.

Another outreach event was the 11th annual North Fair Oaks Festival. This festival is organized by San Mateo County and closes Middlefield road, between 2nd and 5th street in Redwood City and is attended by thousands of neighborhood residents. The festival provided a day of free live entertainment, arts and crafts, and information from community organizations. The Redwood City Public Library and the Library Foundation provided 2,500 bilingual books and book marks FREE to families that visited our booths!

An organization called Statestats.org worked closely with the ALA and IMLS to create this infographic about “Why support your local library?” Here is the infographic: http://www.statestats.org/support-your-local-library/

Redwood City Public Library has always been very innovative in library service. We pioneered our unique use of spaces for different uses and users, food and drink, a bookstore approach to the collection, self-service, volunteers, a de-emphasis on reference and an emphasis on youth and education, including family literacy. This article in an industry publication shows how the mainstream is catching up. Reference has not been a core service of Redwood City Public Library for years now except for helping our kids with homework assignments and specialized local history.

Julie Farnsworth, Director of Library Services of the Pleasanton Public Library, was asked to share their experience with:

Ending Reference

The Pleasanton Public Library is a medium-sized City library with holdings of 212,000 items and annual circulation of 1.6 million located in an affluent East Bay suburb. Our building is undersize for our 73,000 population at 30,000 square feet – most of our neighboring libraries provide 1.0 square feet or better per capita while we offer .34 – while our foot traffic reaches a hearty half-million+ a year.

We’ve all read that our libraries need to change with the times, become more current, abandon Dewey, feature our role as a Third Place, and do more than warehouse books. We have also all seen a change in both reference questions and librarian search methods in response to the ubiquity, breadth and presumed authenticity of the Internet. We asked ourselves, if the public no longer uses reference and much book non-fiction and neither does the staff (although they very much wanted to keep it available in case they needed it someday), why are we housing them? Given our small building, shouldn’t we prioritize our services and thus our collection? Our answer was yes.

Over the last two years, we have greatly reduced our adult non-fiction collection and eliminated 99% of our reference collection in order to expand more popular collections and public seating. Starting in 2010, the Pleasanton Public Library functionally eliminated the adult reference collection – eliminating most books and minimizing those we kept in the circulating collection – and reduced the adult non-fiction collection by 34% from 47,438 to 31,521 items. There were only a couple of mild public complaints that ended within the week. In the physical space recovered, we have added 32 powered seats, which were instantly filled and almost never empty since. We also created more space for our ESL conversation groups, who have expanded greatly in response to the elimination of adult education in our local school districts. The building is much more open and better lit with the removal of many tall book stacks. Staff are by and large content with the change while some are thrilled.

In 2009, Yu Tao, the head of our adult services, her boss Sandy Silva and I met to discuss our concern about the disparity in turnover rates between adult non-fiction (2.12) and fiction (4.54), meaning that our fiction titles circulated twice as much per title as our non-fiction. We were continuously weeding fiction just to fit items on the shelves, whereas the dust on the non-fiction grew by the day.

Additionally, use of the reference collection by our librarians had plummeted (use by the public was never high).

We were also out of space and, despite our efforts to showcase the need for a new or expanded library, had to confront the fact that the economy meant that was out of reach for a good long time.

We are not a reference or archival library, focusing instead on community interests and children’s services. Why then were we dedicating so much space to reference and unused non-fiction? How could we get more space to move us toward the ‘third place’, community-developing new library world?

We were aware and admired the work of many libraries in replacing Dewey in their non-fiction with a more patron friendly format. However, we didn’t have the staffing in technical services to support such a change and knew anyway that we had a lot of items that wouldn’t circulate even in a friendlier format.

In observation of our reference librarians’ work, it was clear that they used the Internet for most reference questions, falling back to print works only occasionally and often unsuccessfully. Tao convinced her librarians to try putting the reference books on the regular non-fiction shelves. This would reduce public confusion over multiple locations for the same subject and perhaps draw more attention to the reference titles. We were concerned that we would frustrate the patrons by putting items on the regular shelves that they would not be allowed to check out, but we had almost no complaints. After a year, it was clear we also had no use. The reference titles were not of interest to the patrons, just as they had not been to the staff except as in-case-comfort.

In response to staff concern that the weeding might have disproportionate impact on individual subject areas, a systematic collection development cycle that addressed these areas was created and implemented by staff.

We weeded the reference collection again and made 99% of those items we kept in the circulating collection. We have a partner genealogy association that has kept several hundred items. Their items are all reference. We have kept our local high school yearbooks, some local government documents, about 50 career/test books and 30 investment books as reference. Our reference collection went from 7,467 items to under a hundred – exactly 99% reduction.

We now have space on the shelves for all our more popular collections and have faceout displays throughout the building. Circulation for the slimmed down collections is either the same as before or rising. The number of physical shelves required for the adult non-fiction has been cut in half; you may recall that we weeded only 34%, so the difference is that the items remaining spend most of their time outside the building.

To us, that means that they are the right items to retain.








June/July 2012 Report

Library Director’s Report-June/July 2012

 Great stat: there are more public libraries in the United States (17,000 including branches) than there are MacDonalds in the U.S. (13,000 and counting!).

New Youth and Family Initiatives

  • Current research has found that shortly after birth, a baby’s brain contains more nerve cell connections (or synapses) than it will ever use. By the age of 2, a child’s brain contains twice as many synapses as the brain of a normal adult. Over time, the brain eliminates synapses that are seldom or never used. It has also been discovered that by the time babies reach their first birthday, they will have learned all the sounds needed to speak their native language and after this first year, it gets increasingly difficult (if not impossible) to acquire language as unused synapses begin to be eliminated. It is crucial to maximize the development of these young children during these important periods in their growth. The best way to make sure that this happens is through an early literacy program that encourages parents to take the time to read to their babies, beginning at birth. Reading to young babies teaches them about communication; introduces concepts such as stories, numbers, letters, colors, and shapes; builds listening, memory, and vocabulary skills; and gives the babies information about the world around them. The most important reason to read to a baby, though, is the positive connection that is formed between a parent, the baby and books. It sends the message to the baby that reading is a skill worth learning.

In September, the Redwood City Public Library will begin to offer a six week program entitled, “Baby and Me at the Library“, that will provide babies, ages birth to eighteen months, and their parents, with experiences geared to increasing the parents’ awareness of their child’s development with an emphasis on language enrichment and pre-literacy skills. The hour long program will include nursery rhymes, songs, book sharing, parenting information, the construction of handmade toys and free books to begin to build a home library. We are planning to offer this at all libraries—year round.

  • Discover & Go provides Redwood City Library card holders with FREE family passes to local Bay Area museums and other cultural institutions. Reservations are made and printed online from home and expire immediately after the reservation date. Free, or discounted passes, are available to a number of museums and cultural institutions. In the first two months Redwood City is averaging 50 reservations a month
  • Each month our Youth Agenda Team, which includes the Police Chief, Library Director, and the Parks, Recreation and Community Services Director, meets with our Redwood City 2020 and School District partners. The Youth Agenda Team is focused on sharing City resources, promote effective communication and develop efficiencies to provide high quality programs for youth.

 The Team is currently focused on developing an Extended Day/Early Evening Family Literacy Pilot Program at Hoover School, a program designed to promote family engagement that supports our outcomes of all children, youth and families are safe; children, youth and families are healthy; and children and youth are succeeding in school and preparing for responsible adulthood. The pilot would have as a centerpiece a family drop-in center that would be open 2 (Tuesday and Thursday) evenings per week for 36 weeks during the school year. The center would begin at 4:30PM and end by 8PM. Right now we are planning on providing the following basic services:

  • Homework assistance for students, using staff/tutors/mentors. In addition, an independent learning plan could be developed for each participating student.
  • Basic English Language Development (pre-CBET level) for families that could serve as an entry point for those motivated to learn English but less than literate in Spanish and needing basic skills to function in the U.S.  This model could be developed as informal, activity based, intergenerational learning groups to help participants feel comfortable, and set them on the path to more formal English Language Development programs (Adult School, CBET, etc.)
  • Basic computer literacy – setting up and using email, accessing the web, etc.
  • Parent/family education programs that address basic parenting skills (communication, problem solving, discipline, bullying/cyber bullying), nutrition, recreation and fitness activities available through the center.

The Latino Community Council of Redwood City (LCCRC), in cooperation with the Redwood City Library Foundation, has raised $36,700 for children’s books, movies and music for the Fair Oaks Library through hosting a community festival at the Fair Oaks Library. Representatives of the LCCRC made a presentation at the City Council meeting on July 9th, and to present the Library with a check. LCCRC is an advocacy group working for the advancement of Latinos and their issues through civic and community engagement.

The automated self check-in and sorting systems, which will be implemented at the Shores and Downtown Libraries, is underway. An architect has been selected and will work with staff to select locations for the customer check-in areas and develop a plan to reconfigure the Downtown Library lobby for better customer flow and create a single service point.

Link+, a pilot program, which allows our customers to borrow items for free from a wide network of academic and public libraries, has a six month average of 80 items borrowed/50 items lent per month. Because the cost of this program is quite high, and to succeed it really needs to be imbedded in our catalog as a choice on the page the item resides (which is not happening because Redwood City and the County Library are the only two participants)—and that we already have a solid inter-library loan with all PLS libraries—it does not bode well for continuation. PLS is looking at cheaper models with a wider range of participating libraries.

We will be upgrading and fixing some of the exhibits for the Interpretive Center at the Shores Library. It has been more than three years in operation and it is need of attention.

We are implementing a new user interface to our catalog. Attractive features include:

  • Ability to customize interface to look like the library website. Including the ability to have full library website navigation within the catalog
  • Browsing features offer a graphic “bookshelf” feature
  • The company is innovative and constantly developing new features
  • Ebook download from within the catalog
  • Acquired date feature: you can search for items like DVDs acquired within a certain timeframe
  • Social media features (rating, reviews). Reviews are nationwide across bibliocommons libraries, so content is rich
  • Graphical representation of New titles lists, recently reviewed lists

Here is a link to a Bibliocommons catalog (New York Public):


Over 3,000 readers, listeners, and parents have signed up for the Dream Big – Read summer reading club through July. The weekly programs of music, magic, juggling, trick dogs and more, funded by the Friends of the Library, have brought in almost 5,000 kids and caregivers (1,000 Fair Oaks, 1,500 Shores, 1,500 Downtown, 1,000 Schaberg) with more programs to come through August, thanks to the Library Foundation.

Close to 4,000 kids and caregivers attended programs at the Fair Oaks Library these past two months, including the summer reading club programs!

A Redwood City librarian was the keynote speaker at Hawes School’s “Book-It” assembly of 350 elite readers. Book-it is a program that encourages students to read half an hour every day, all year round. Students at the assembly were children who had reached their goals. Since the librarian had been to Hawes the week before to talk about the Summer Reading Club, there were many cries of recognition among the students, “Hey! You were here wearing pajamas! That was silly! I remember!” And that was the whole point!

The library was asked by the Parks and Recreation Department to attend the parent orientation of the Junior Giants summer camp at the Red Morton Center and talk about the Summer Reading Club. About 200 parents were present, and the librarian saw no reason why they shouldn’t get the pajamas and giant teddy bear treatment. Surely that had to beat just standing there and yammering about the importance of reading. It’s amazing how effectively a message can be delivered while wearing bunny slippers.

As we know, budget difficulties have caused the cancellation of summer school in the RWC school district. However, some schools have found ways to fill the gap by holding summer camps at various campuses. Several of these programs have literacy components, and, when they do, the library is involved. There were several meetings between library staff and summer camp folks and plans were hatched to bring campers to the library for field trips and to sign up for the Summer Reading Club. Garfield is even bringing students to the Fair Oaks Library for the summer programs and having parents collect them there. Another great partnership between schools and the library!

Project READ’s Family Literacy Instructional Center, computer-based instruction that was implemented to serve those waiting for a tutor match, has exceeded all expectations. Close to 200 people are enrolled in the program, a five-fold increase from 3 years ago! Combined with the Families in Literacy and Kids in Partnership programs, we are really far beyond what we thought we were able to provide youth and families each month. When you look at the whole library, including the Project READ programs—children’s homework center, Teen Center and Traveling Storytime, it is really amazing what this library is able to accomplish, and the literacy/educational support we are providing our community!

The Library sponsored two teens and the Library Foundation sponsored two teens from the Teen Center and Project READ to attend the Fresh Takes Video summer camp. These teens would not have been able to afford this great program.

About 40 people participated in Thursday night’s Free Documentary Film Screening – “Old People Driving” with related community talks, presented by The Redwood City Senior Affairs Commission. In attendance was documentary film maker Shaleece Haas and her grandfather, Redwood City resident Milton Cavalli, featured in the film, which helps consider difficult questions about the driving question we should be having in conversations with family members and elderly friends.

Here is a brilliant piece of marketing – enjoy:



Cleveland Public Library’s TechCentral offers users advanced technology

Published: Thursday, June 14, 2012, 5:35

By Brandon Blackwell, The Plain Dealer The Plain Dealer

CLEVELAND, Ohio — The Cleveland Public Library is getting a high-tech upgrade — one it says is the first of its kind in any U.S. library.

Today, the library unveils TechCentral, its downtown destination for computing and emerging technologies.

The center will give visitors access to dynamic, interactive technology unrivaled in any library in the country, said library Executive Director Felton Thomas.

Anyone with a library card can toy with tablet computers, print plastic 3-D models, engage in wireless computing and do much more in the 7,000-square-foot center on the lower level of the Louis Stokes Wing.

The $1 million center is more like a colorful Apple store than library room.

“We hope patrons will be wowed,” Thomas said. “We want people to come in to TechCentral and feel they are getting an experience they couldn’t get anywhere else.”

It begins with a 70-inch interactive monitor that will greet patrons and serve as a digital guide to the myriad services offered.

From there, tech toys abound.

The “Tech ToyBox” will give patrons a chance to try the latest tablets and e-readers.

The iPads, Kindles and other devices are tethered to countertops, but adults have the option of taking one home for a week at a time.

But be sure to return the costly gadget on time. The library charges a late fee of $3 per day.

Thomas said the library does not anticipate substantial losses from providing patrons with such expensive equipment, and that access to the technology is paramount. 

Cleveland Public Library’s TechCentral will open its doors to the public today.

“Many of our folks don’t have an opportunity to buy this technology,” Thomas said. “Our job is to provide it.”

TechCentral also delivers “MyCloud” wireless computing that allows adult patrons to check out laptop-like computers for use anywhere on the library’s grounds, including the outdoor reading garden.

“The future is not being tied down to one spot,” Thomas said. “The future is being able to compute wherever you want to go.”

The devices shut down if removed from the library, and the user’s driver’s license is held until the computer is returned.

The center is also equipped with 90 desktop computers, allowing users to work on Windows, Mac and Linux operating systems.

Patrons can use the workstations for two hours at a time. Those who cannot find an available workstation can swipe their library card to find when and where the next computer will be available.

The inexperienced should not be intimidated by all TechCentral has to offer, Thomas said. Library staff will be on hand to assist with everything from sending email to editing home movies.

It is all part of the library’s plan to provide the community a place to discover new technology and learn how to use it for personal and professional enrichment, the executive director said.

“Instead of being transactional, we have to be transformational,” he said.

TechCentral’s public grand opening is from 5:30 to 7 p.m. in the lower level of the Stokes Wing. A community open house is Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Attendees will be able to take part in demos of new and existing services and have the chance to win prizes.

Starting Monday, the center will operate during the library’s normal business hours — 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday.

From TIME magazine http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,2118141,00.html

Wednesday, Jun. 27, 2012

Why Libraries Are a Smart Investment for the Country’s Future

By Elizabeth Dias

Across from the United States Supreme Court, two hundred people gathered at the Library of Congress to celebrate Monday — and not because of the court’s immigration decision. From suited university presidents to red-shirted Boy Scouts from Cincinnati, these partiers gathered at a symposium to commemorate a troika of American institutions: the land-grant university, the National Academy of Sciences and the Carnegie libraries.

The celebration was marked by a keen awareness that libraries have been vital engines of America’s social mobility from their earliest days. Vartan Gregorian, President of the Carnegie Corporation of New York and former New York Public Library president who raised a $327 million to revive the institution in the 1980s, led an afternoon panel discussing libraries’ foundational importance to a democratic America. Gregorian’s central point: the Library of Congress is and must continue to be the “guardian not only of our nation’s memory but of humanity’s.”

Libraries across America share this task thanks to Andrew Carnegie, who gave some 1400 grants to build libraries across the country, worth $41 million at the time, or several billion in today’s dollars. His gift of the New York Public Library tops the charts of philanthropic acts in American history. “The library in his mind was the quintessential educational institution for the whole community,” said David Nasaw, history professor at City University of New York.

Carnegie’s influence on education expanded social possibilities for everyday Americans. “There are now more public libraries in the United States than McDonalds restaurants,” noted Clara Hayden, CEO of Baltimore’s Enoch Pratt Free Library. Libraries provide people with cultural capital, she explained — lectures, music, debates, and news, all free and accessible. Libraries were even some of the first places open to all races. Today more than 70% of all libraries offer free internet access, and in a struggling economy where even applications for dishwashing jobs must be filled out online, that is no small public service.

Today America’s library system sits at a critical juncture. The Library of Congress alone has lost some 1300 staff since the onset of the digital media age two decades ago. Until last week, four of the six largest American publishing houses did not lend digital books to libraries, president of the New York Public Library Anthony Marx noted. And last month, the NYPL’s move to renovate its landmark headquarters to include more computers and resources for the general public prompted protests from scholars and writers who wanted to preserve the space for research.

Despite these challenges, the transition to digital media continues to open doors for innovative public service. The Library of Congress is spearheading the creation of a new World Digital Library with 145 institutions worldwide. The project allows the United States, often criticized for supplanting other cultures identities, to help with the repatriation of other countries’ unique cultural memories, said the Librarian of Congress James Billington. The Digital Public Library of America, an online project shepherded by Harvard University to spread knowledge beyond traditional library shelves, aims to launch in April of next year.

As both the national economy and print empires shift, it may be tempting to take America’s library system for granted. Marx reminded the audience to keep investing in the country’s public educational opportunities, especially public libraries. “You cannot have a functioning economy if you do not have innovation,” he said. “You cannot have a functioning democracy if you cannot have the citizenry able to inform itself.” Nasaw agreed: “We should emphasize that libraries are not frills. They are not luxuries, but a sacred component of American education and American democracy.”

The symposium also commemorated the act that granted 17.4 million acres to states in the 19th and 20th centuries to launch land-grant colleges all across the country. “The Morrill Act provided a blueprint for America’s first continent-wide plan for education,” Librarian of Congress James Billington said. Representative Justin Morrill of Vermont, he noted, crystalized a vision for fostering agricultural, mechanical, and liberal arts studies. Over 100 public universities have been created as a result.

Land-grant university presidents at the conference panels touted the contributions that their public institutions have made to society. University of Georgia President Michael F. Adams praised his students for their recent discovery that the Peach State is actually better suited to growing blueberries — as a result of their research, Georgia has since shifted gears to produce more berries than their official state fruit. Montana State University President Waded Cruzado noted that without funding for land-grant institutions, one of her school’s graduates, renowned vaccinologist Maurice Hilleman, might not have been able to afford higher education. Hilleman developed eight of the 14 vaccines given to prevent childhood diseases, such as measles, mumps and pneumonia around the globe. “It is claimed that he saved more lives than anyone in the world,” Cruzado said.

Although the Morrill Act and the library system are often praised for helping Americans break the glass ceiling, the 150th celebration served as a reminder that some parts of the ceiling have yet to be shattered. Allen Sessoms, President of the University of the District of Columbia, expressed frustration that higher education is becoming more of “a private good than a public necessity.” Some schools now offer more merit-based scholarships than need-based aid, he said, and that’s a drift from their public mission. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn), who earlier told the gathering that he got his first library card at age three, closed with a final challenge for Washington: “Why not celebrate this anniversary by taking steps to make our institutions work?”


April/May 2012 Report

Library Director’s Report- April/May 2012

Kids In Partnership teen tutors participated in a letter-writing campaign to help reinstate funding for California Library Literacy Services, including Redwood City’s Project READ. Here is a sampling of what they had to say:

“I am a tutor at Project READ. I have taught my buddy a lot, however, my buddy has taught me a lot as well. If I didn’t attend this program each week, I would not have the experience of helping a child who needs my help.” Jessica, KIP teen tutor, 11th grader

 “I am a tutor at Project READ and I think this is a great program for students. We help them with their homework and reading skills. I was also a part of KIP when I was their age and I feel really lucky to have the opportunity to come back and give my part to this program that helped me with my reading skills. I see the kids really enjoying time with their tutors…this program really brings tutors and their buddies together, by all of the time they spend throughout the years.” Karina, KIP teen tutor, 12th grader

 “I am a current KIP tutor, this is one of my first years volunteering in this community organization. I am more than thankful for having this opportunity as a tutor. I was once a Project READ learner, thanks to that program I was and have been able to prevail in the English language. I sought help since I did not know the language, but thanks to this organization, I was able to transition into honors English throughout my high school life…I am very proud of having this program around that provides young, anxious to learn students improve their skills.” Yxenia, KIP teen tutor, 11th grader

“KIP has let me help out my community and make a true impact to help educate the youth of Redwood City. Every week, the kids become smarter and more mature because of the helpful skills that KIP teaches them…it is an amazing program with amazing learners, tutors and group leaders.” Aliza, KIP teen tutor, 9th grader

“Project READ is a great program and not only helps the kids, but the tutors as well. It helps us see how little things can mean a lot to kids. Just having someone older that they can talk to about how their day went helps them become more social and teaches them how to have conversations. We form a bond with our little buddies and become good friends. In teen hour, it helps us tutors find out things about college opportunities that you can’t always find at school. This program helps many in more than one way.” Michelle, KIP teen tutor, 11th grader

“I am currently a tutor at KIP. I have been volunteering since I was a sophomore in high school (I am now a senior). KIP has honestly been an important part of my life since I myself was one of the learners as an elementary school student. KIP helped me with my reading skills, and did an extremely good job; I went from having the hardest time learning to read English, considering the fact that English was not my first language. Today, I am doing well in my English class and have managed to receive my school’s English award. I think that programs like Project READ and KIP are very helpful.” Veronica, KIP teen tutor, 12th grader

“I have been a tutor for this program for the past three years. I too was a KIP learner when I was in elementary school. I am now a high school senior, about to attend college. This program does a lot of great things. It makes the kids happy being here with their friends and tutors. I still remember being in Project READ/KIP when I was a child. I made a lot of great friends and memories. The leaders here are amazing and very nice to everyone else. This program means a lot to the children, just as much as it means to the tutors. KIP is a place to make friends and feel like family.” Karina, KIP teen tutor, 12th grader

The Youth Agenda (PRCS, PD, Library, Redwood City 2020) is piloting collaboration with the School District to expand learning and literacy programs and services at a school site this school year. This may include opening the library and computer lab, homework assistance, and family health and education classes.

The Library Foundation held a strategic planning retreat. Outcomes include: formally meeting and working more closely with the Library Board, increasing Foundation and Library communication to the community, selecting new projects to fundraise (e.g.: help offset the State takeaway to Project READ; explore a larger facility for the Fair Oaks Library) and Board development.

On Friday, April 27, KIP staff, teens and AmeriCorps members staffed a table at Redwood City’s Teens In Action Showcase at the Courthouse Square. One of our KIP teen tutors and several of Project READ’s teen tutors from the Young Dreamer’s Network were there to celebrate their community service and all of the wonderful ways that youth contribute to the bettering of the Redwood City community through tutoring.

Plans have begun to reconfigure the Downtown Library’s lobby to accommodate self-check in of materials, better customer queuing and one desk customer assistance. The Shores Library will have their self-check in system installed first. The new RFID check out system is hitting 95% of all transactions at Downtown and Shores; 75% at Schaberg; 50% at Fair Oaks (Fair Oaks will always be a high touch service model for all transactions). The new system has doubled the success rate of the previous self-checks, with a dramatic decrease in staff intervention for errors and/or assistance.

A new Farmers Market will open in the Shores Library parking lot on Fridays (the library is closed that day).

CLUB USA continues to offer new learning opportunities at the Shores Library. New weekly programs include Science-in-Action, Music-in-Action (for preschoolers!) and a photography workshop.

There was some serious talent, and a whole lot of infectious enthusiasm, on display Wednesday night at the Library’s annual Kids’ Talent Show. There were 34 performers in all, from gymnasts to guitarists to piano players with comic patter; kung-fu demos and a three-and-a-half year old reciting Cinderella, complete with song interludes. The audience of 150 clapped along appreciatively and parents beamed and snapped photos of their talented kids. The most unusual performance of the evening was by the 3rd grader who recited pi to the 121st power. Yes, 121 numbers, all written out behind him so the audience could check his astounding memory. For the past 21 years, librarian Jacky Averill has given Redwood City kids a chance to appear in front of an audience, developing self-confidence and stage presence and sharing the excitement of the performing arts. And who knows? Maybe when it comes time to give that oral report in 6th grade, or that presentation at the office down the line, having stood in front of a crowd at the Redwood City Library will be an experience that comes in handy!

Plans are in the works to update some of the displays for the Interpretive Center at the Shores Library. This will include offering a variety of environmental programs.

Over 500 people attended the Downtown Library’s Cinco de Mayo celebration of music, crafts, stories and food demonstrations! The Friends of the Library sold plenty of books at great prices, with proceeds going towards funding this and other great family programs.

For four years the Friends of the Library have been generously funding Family Author Nights, a program that brings bilingual authors and illustrators to Redwood City schools. This partnership has gotten so successful that it’s now become a regular part of the schools’ calendars, and, thanks to the Library Foundation, it secured a grant to expand to two new schools. The library is proud to present a program that highlights not only the importance of reading, but also the fun of it – a message that bears repeating in these times of reading for the test. We all know how much fun that is… In addition, Family Author Nights are held, as the name implies, in the evening, so that not only students but also their families can attend and hear the message. The presenter’s books are also given out free to students. Add the excitement of a book sale by the Friends of the Library, and la gran rifa (the Big Raffle), and you have a fun and memorable night all about literacy. With the addition of these two schools, a grand total of eight schools participated in Family Author Nights this year. That’s eight schools, 2,000 free books, and 1,500 people attending.

The Summer Reading Club starts June 7th, and thanks to the Library Foundation, will continue until the last day of August, with opportunities for readers, listeners, and parents to win prizes for reading books. The library will present a bigger, longer slate of programs all summer, starting on June 12 and continuing through the week of August 20.

National Volunteer Week was in April. We recognized and thanked many of our volunteers for their dedication, hard work, and commitment with a special event. In addition to the Project READ’s July bbq which celebrates hundreds of tutors and folks who help that wonderful program, this was a great opportunity to thank many other volunteers for giving their time to the library, including helping with homework, delivering books to the homebound, keeping the Local History Room open, reading to preschoolers and operating the Friends Bookstore.

In April, the Latino Community Council of Redwood City in partnership with the Library Foundation celebrated a very successful Día del Niño/Day of the Child with a Kermes in the parking lot of the Fair Oaks Branch Library and the Fair Oaks Community Center. The attendance increased dramatically from last year, raised almost $30,000, and we are planning to continue this great collaborative to raise funds for the Fair Oaks Library.

The City is planning to launch a new online donation website, Click and Pledge. The Library Foundation and Project READ will be options.

We are offering a new collaborative initiative with Bay Area museums. Our library card holders can get free family passes to some of the top museums. We are also again collaborating with the San Jose Art Museum to hold art classes in the Teen Room.

“As the twig is bent, so grows the tree.”


On a recent Monday morning in Washington, D.C., a group of 3-year-old preschoolers bumbled their way into a circle, more or less, on the rug of their classroom. It was time to read.

The children sat cross-legged as their teacher, Mary-Lynn Goldstein, held high a book, Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus. There was a short conversation about pigeons, then, for reasons that weren’t entirely clear, cows; and then Goldstein began to read. She read as most teachers read, occasionally stopping to ask a question, point out a picture or make a comment about the story.

In other words, it was a familiar scene — a scene that, on that very day, likely took place in every preschool classroom in the country. Preschool teachers do this, and have been doing it for decades.

“The thought was you read to children — that will make a big difference in how well they read later on when they’re in school,” says Anita McGinty, an education researcher who works at the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education. “That’s still probably the biggest message out there: Read to young children.” 

But about 15 years ago, says McGinty, researchers like her started to look more closely at reading, trying to unpack exactly which behaviors helped children learn to read. In the process, she says, they discovered something surprising about the simple act of sitting down and reading a story through with a child. “It mattered a lot less than we thought it did,” she says.

It’s not that reading didn’t help a child to learn. It helped to build a child’s vocabulary, for example. But it didn’t necessarily improve a child’s ability to read, per se.

To figure out why, researchers embarked on a new round of studies — specifically, eye-tracking studies.

“What they would do is that they would put a child on their parent’s lap, and then they would use some special equipment that allows them to pinpoint exactly where the children are looking at any given moment in time,” says Shayne Piasta, a professor at Ohio State University.

They found that when you simply read a book to kids, they tend to ignore the print on the page. More than 90 percent of the time the children are focusing on the pictures, or they are looking up at the parent, she says.

Here, went the theory, was the answer: Learning to read is an incremental process; you become familiar with letters, then words; the practice of reading from left to right; and eventually you put all that together and begin to read. But if a child’s attention isn’t drawn to the printed word, then reading to a child won’t necessarily make them more familiar with what it means to read.

And so new questions emerged. How could teachers change what children saw and thought about when a book was being read? And how much difference would that make? If disadvantaged children who often have reading troubles were made to think more about print at a very young age, would they become better readers later on?

Reading Changes Made A Difference To Children

To answer these questions, McGinty, along with Piasta and a researcher named Laura Justice, designed a research study to look at the effects of modest changes in the way preschool teachers read to children. McGinty and her colleagues decided to target disadvantaged preschoolers because they frequently end up with reading issues.

For the study, they gave two groups of preschool teachers books for an entire school year — 30 weeks’ worth of books. One group was told to read the books normally; the other was given weekly cards with specific questions the teacher could ask — really just small phrases — that might momentarily draw a child’s attention to the print on the page.

The teachers were told to read their books four times a week, and to point out the print in this way between four and eight times, so that together the small phrases hardly added extra time to their reading sessions — maybe 90 seconds per book.

It is hard to imagine that such a small adjustment would make any difference. It was a series of moments, questions and gestures. How much could that do?

So far, the kids have been followed for two years. They are now in first grade, and according to the most recent findings, which were published in the journal Child Development, even these small changes make a measurable difference.

“Children who focused their attention on print … had better literacy outcomes than those who did not,” says Piasta. “It was very clear.”

Understanding The Details Of Learning

But how much should we trust this? Positive results from interventions like this frequently are lost over time, overwhelmed by the reality of bad schools and poor support at home. This was, after all, such a modest adjustment.

The question is almost a philosophical one: How big a difference can small changes make?

The fact is, this study is part of a broader effort that’s been going on in education research for the past 20 or so years. Education researchers are attempting to break down in minute ways how teachers (and parents) should interact on a moment-to-moment basis with children in order to promote their learning.

It’s one focus of the field right now, and there have been some encouraging findings. But it’s still not clear whether interventions like this have real staying power.

“Findings like this are at a very high risk of fading out,” says Scott McConnell, a professor of educational psychology at the University of Minnesota. “But let’s talk about why they might fade out. There’s no reason to believe that an intervention like this, provided to 4-year-olds, is all these kids will ever need. They are going to need sustained intervention that takes advantage of the growth that they’ve achieved here.”

Without other programs, gains are easy to lose, he says. He also points out that it’s hard to implement preschool programs like this broadly, because at the preschool level there’s wide variety in teachers’ skills.

But he still believes programs like this are important. It’s simple, he says: “As the twig is bent, so grows the tree.”

March 2012 Report

Library Director’s Report- March 2012

We have been presenting several career workshops and computer trainings to help our community find employment or better their current career. Some of our programs included hands-on help with resume and interviewing; personal mentoring from Human Resources professionals; industry employers discussing job opportunities, qualifications and hiring processes; and weekly drop-in assistance for resume writing and online application filing.  These programs have been well received and attended and we plan on continuing to offer them. For example a new weekly program is providing volunteers with human resources experience offering personalized coaching in resume writing, refining career paths and interview preparation.

For the past eight years we have visited every Kindergarten class in the district to insure all our little ones get their first library cards (if they don’t already have one!). This initiative culminates with our KinderCard SuperSaturday celebration for the kindergarteners and their families. This year there were so many folks coming into the library’s big open house for the 5 -6 year old set that they overwhelmed staff handing out balloons, cards, prizes and goodie bags. “We couldn’t keep track!” they said. “We could barely keep up!” An estimated 1,800 people attended, making this our most successful KinderCard SuperSaturday ever! There were happy kindergartners everywhere, and we do mean everywhere.

Here are some of the stats and highlights:

  • Number of kindergarten classrooms visited by a librarian with some obviously stunningly effective outreach: 56 classrooms at 19 schools
  • Number of kindergartners who received a library card application and a visit: 1,680
  • Number of new library cards given out: 570, exceeding last year’s total of 441.
  • Number of balloon animals made by Mr. Lalo: He lost count, too!
  • Number of people jammed in the Community Room for two magic shows with Ask K the Pretty Good: Never mind – don’t tell the fire department.
  • Number of volunteers: 8 boy scouts, 2 boy scout parents and many adults.
  • Amount made by the Friends of the Library (our generous sponsors) in book sales: over $300.
  • Number of helium balloons that got away: 19. (Yes we even had a betting pool as to how many balloons would get away!)

 We learn something new each year we do KinderCard, so this year we added one more puppet show and scheduled a storyteller in the program room all morning to do continuous storytimes. We also kept crafts just simple enough to conserve staff time but not so simple that there were not many satisfied young artisans. Other triumphs: Spot the Dog only made a few kids cry; none of the boy scouts wearing the Spot costume passed out; none of the front desk staff passed out. Hooray for everyone who worked on SuperSaturday and for everyone who processed all those library cards applications.

And thanks to the Friends of the Library for sponsoring this library program!

The Library’s Maria Kramer, President of prestigious REFORMA (National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish-Speaking) spoke at the Public Library Association Conference on “Family Literacy Focus: Serving Diverse Communities through Innovative Library-based Programs”.

Some of the findings while preparing for this presentation:

  • 30% of high school students drop out before graduation
  • 50% of these dropouts are African American and Latino
  • American Indian and Alaska Native students have a dropout rate twice the national average
  • Asian and Pacific Islander students who struggle in school often fail to get the attention and resources they need
  • Chinese Americans’ education level varies according to their generation in the United States


  • 90 million adults read at or below the basic level
  • 11 million English speaking adults are non-literate in English
  • Parents and grandparents are the child’s first teacher
  • A child’s success in school depends on the adult’s literacy level


  • Reaching across generations and cultures
  • Building strong literacy practices in diverse communities

US Representative Jackie Speier’s event at the Downtown Library on Saturday was a success, thanks in large part to a great effort by our Library staff. Her event, coinciding with Women’s History Month, was aimed at girls ages 9 – 14, with the goal of inspiring them toward success. It featured as role models Congresswoman Speier as well as Emmy award-winning broadcast journalist Jan Yanehiro, civil rights leader Minnijean Brown Trickey, commercial pilot Kathleen Wentworth, and Associate Dean of San Francisco General Hospital Dr. Sue Carlisle.

Thanks to a generous grant from Cargill, the library was able to expand its popular Family Author Nights in the Schools program to include Roosevelt Elementary.

Family Author Nights, now in its 4th year, brings Latino authors and illustrators to the community by sponsoring bilingual presentations on campuses across the district. Copies of the presenters’ books are also given away to students. Holding these events in the school during the evening makes them family occasions, with everyone from babies to abuelas able to attend an event that’s all about the fun – and importance – of reading. One hundred people gathered at Roosevelt to hear a presentation by dynamic local illustrator Elizabeth Gomez (check out her mural in the Family Place Downtown). All of Roosevelt’s fourth graders will be getting art workshops taught by Elizabeth, also thanks to the Cargill grant. The Friends of the Library are sponsoring an additional six Family Author Nights, and the Cargill grant covered Adelante School, bringing the total of schools up to eight this year. Many thanks to our sponsors.

Partnering with Redwood City schools is one of the most satisfying things we do, especially when it’s with a program like Familias Unidas at Hoover School. Familias Unidas (Families United) is the brainchild of a Hoover third grade teacher and her husband. It’s designed to teach parents who have had no experience themselves with schools in the United States how their childrens’ schools work. What’s a book report? How do report cards work? When should I go talk to my child’s teacher? The library is proud to have become an integral part of Familias, making a visit each time the class is held. We talk about the importance of reading, and about all the library’s free services, and hand out library cards. It’s always gratifying how many people already have cards and how often they come to the library, but there are also always plenty of folks who get their first card during one of the visits. And a librarian has come to traditionally give the closing speech at each Familias graduation.

Not only is our Teen Center well used (more than 700 visits by 180 different teens), it also continues to reach out and intervene in teen lives, especially those who really need the supportive, educational and personal support that a traditional library does not offer. This from our Teen Librarian: “Last week I had three kids from Your House South (which is a group home in Redwood City offering a supportive place for families in conflict).  I helped two of the boys get replacement cards and cleared their accounts so they could use computers and check out materials. When they expressed a fear about not being able to get the book back in time I told them to come talk with me and we would work it out. They came again this week and brought a friend. She needed a card too so I got her a replacement card and removed all her fines as well. They seem very pleased to be here. Their adult advisor wasn’t with them this time so I gave one of the boys my business card to hand to him and found out where they were from.”  

Fair Oaks

  • A new Homework Center program at Fair Oaks is helping students  use the computer based programs that are used at school to practice reading and math. We are starting with two programs that are used at several schools. Students who have been assigned to practice their skills will be provided with assistance if they need it. 
  • Great follow up with the Police Department from our library staff, especially at Fair Oaks Library, has decreased many problems we have been having at the Downtown and Fair Oaks Libraries. Our officers have been very responsive and supportive when staff calls for help. Their visibility continues to deter and decrease the number of problems we have.
  • The County has started to work on the landscaping improvements. This month they cleaned up the area around the building and filled it with mulch. This should reduce the mud that gets tracked in by customers and also the dust that was generated from the dry dirt. 

Project READ

Last July we started a pilot small-group program at the Women’s Transitional Facility, a minimum-security jail program designed to provide women with necessary life skills and community resources, as they get ready to transition back to the community. This month Project READ introduced Families for Literacy Story Hour books and crafts to the group.  The women loved reading the children books aloud, discussing the themes presented in the book. They were especially excited when told that they would be able to keep a copy of the book to take home. One woman commented about the hardback edition of Eric Carle’s Rooster’s Off to See the World, “Wow, this is a really expensive book!  I can’t believe I get to keep it and take it home. My daughter is going to be so excited.”  After completing the 3 Story Hour crafts, the women were able to get ideas for at-home educational activities they can do with their children by using common household materials.

We started a new Fathers and Families small group at the McGuire Correctional Facility with 16 participants. Along with improving and expanding their parenting skills the fathers read and record a storybook that is then sent home to their children along with the book read, to add to their children’s home library.

We developed a new pilot series of small-group workshops at the Women’s Correctional Center. The workshops focus on phonics, spelling, writing, and grammar. 15 women are participating.

After simultaneous sessions of one-on-one tutoring and the writing workshop, a Sheriff’s deputy commented, “You have a great program. Wait, I should say that Project READ has a SUCCESSFUL program.  All of the women who participate are engaged in learning and seem to really enjoy the classes.”

An article from the San Francisco Chronicle on the exploding popularity of e-books and the struggles public libraries are having with publishers:

The popularity of e-readers is soaring, but good luck finding that hot new title at your local library.

Most large publishers refuse to sell critical portions of their digital catalogs for library lending, and those that do are imposing stiff fees and onerous rules.

It’s one more point of contention over the behavior of these companies, as the Justice Department reportedly threatens to file a lawsuit accusing them of collusion in the consumer e-book market.

The worry in this case is that as more and more reading occurs on digital devices, these sorts of restrictions could chip away at the value of libraries – and the societal good they promote in providing equal access to information.

“If we’re not allowed to have access to or even allowed the ability to purchase that broad array of titles, what does that mean for the longevity of the library?” asked Trent Garcia, electronic resources librarian for the San Francisco Public Library. “What is our role if we don’t have access to that content?”

Many libraries do, of course, already offer digital content, but it tends to be either books from smaller publishers or tightly limited catalogs from larger ones.

Simon & Schuster and Macmillan make almost none of their digital content available for library lending, according to the trade publication Library Journal and library sources. Hachette Book Group and, as of late last year, Penguin Group (USA) restrict sales to backlog titles.

Random House and HarperCollins do sell e-books to libraries, but the former just raised prices to library wholesalers like OverDrive by as much as three times, and the latter requires publishers to acquire a new license after a book has circulated more than 26 times.

Major struggle

What’s at work here?

Publishers have never been thrilled about public institutions lending out their products for free, because it might undercut total sales. (It’s a debatable point since libraries also encourage lifelong reading habits.) But U.S. copyright laws have long protected the rights of libraries – or individuals – who legally acquire books to lend them out.

The nature of digital books, however, gives publishers a new opportunity to assert greater control through technology, terms of service and pricing power. Libraries can’t simply buy the virtual books and hand them out in the way they can with physical ones.

The Association of American Publishers and several of the companies in question didn’t respond to inquiries from The Chronicle. But they’ve argued in the past that lending e-books is a graver threat than physical ones, demanding a different set of restrictions, because of the lack of “friction.”

In other words, to borrow and return a physical book, a person has to get themselves to an actual library at least twice. With digital, they can just as easily download a free book from the library, as they can a full-priced version from Amazon.

Mary Minow, Follett Chair at Dominican University and a library law consultant, argues there are critical differences that do add some sand back into the gears. She noted that e-books are still “due” after a few weeks and that there are wait times for popular titles since libraries acquire licenses to only a specific number of copies.

Some libraries are already pushing back, at least implicitly asserting that existing copyright laws already apply to the digital sphere.

The academic libraries at Texas A&M University have simply been buying digital books in the consumer market and loading them up on Kindles that they then lend out. Others have done the same.

But some of these institutions might be operating in a legal gray area, since the terms of use for some e-readers seem to bar that sort of use.

“Unless specifically indicated otherwise, you may not sell, rent, lease, distribute, broadcast, sublicense, or otherwise assign any rights to the Digital Content or any portion of it to any third party,” read the terms for Amazon’s Kindle (emphasis mine).

The Sacramento Public Library announced last year that it would begin lending out Nooks with limited content, though it did so through a partnership with Barnes & Noble.

To clear up any legal uncertainty and protect the privacy of library users, Minow argues that legislators need to amend federal copyright law to assert that libraries can own and lend digital books.

Clarifying ownership

The word “own” is deliberate here, because she believes libraries need to preserve their archives no matter how wholesalers or publishers alter their licensing terms over time. In addition, she said it’s difficult to prevent the likes of Amazon or Barnes & Noble from collecting information about reading habits – a hot-button issue in the library world – so long as they’re dependent on the normal licensing arrangements.

Others watching this space also think new legal protections are necessary to protect the role of libraries.

“If the companies persist, the library will no longer be a preserver of the cultural record or a provider of community services that assist people who don’t have the money to go out and buy this content,” said Sarah Houghton, the interim director at the San Rafael Public Library who has drawn attention to these issues on her Librarian in Black blog. “We bridge the digital divide and the content divide.”

James Temple is a San Francisco Chronicle columnist. Dot.commentary runs three times each week. Twitter: @jtemple. jtemple@sfchronicle.com

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgibin/article.cgif=/c/a/2012/03/17/BUCP1NLI18.DTL#ixzz1ph2WdcZ5