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?”



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