Why Build A New Library In The Digital Age?

The Internet encourages, not replaces, library use. Every time more Internet terminals are added, the use of everything else goes UP – more books checked out, more browsing, more magazines read, more reference questions, more program attendance. 

Our community needs a new library in the digital age.

The children’s storytime – featuring real live people from our own community – is the single most potent strategy for sowing literacy in our community. Study after study show that early childhood literacy is a predictor of school achievement and future success. Fundamental cognitive and language skills are developed before children reach school age. Summer reading programs help to assure language and reading skills do not diminish over the summer months.

The library is an anchor store and traffic generator. Libraries pull a cross-section of the public, all ages, all day long, through our doors. Studies show significant economic benefits to communities with modern, exciting libraries.

Library buildings are a bridge over the digital divide. Libraries are about access, and our record of allowing digitally disadvantaged people – poor, young, elderly, etc. – to use public technology to bootstrap themselves out of technological ghettos is real. Further, a library offers the expertise of trained library personnel who can help patrons interpret and qualify information in internet searches.

Libraries foster community through providing meeting space and lifelong learning opportunities. Libraries serve the role of common, safe and neutral ground. Libraries manifest and reinforce community values – a tangible sign of a community’s commitment to individual inquiry, a safety net for the young and old, a secular sanctuary for social contact or for private pondering.

A new library can be the center of Aberdeen’s workforce development. Library resources can create strong ties to area businesses by offering basic computer knowledge, language learning assistance, etc. to strengthen the workforce. A new library can also offer support to small business by stocking tools for starting a new business specific to the region, providing specific support for micro- businesses (typically in home), computer/online access, and networking.

In the workforce recruitment game, the community with the right mix of jobs, amenities and quality of life, wins.

We Are Not Meeting The Needs Of Our Community

The current library building is not able to meet the needs of our community, in both Aberdeen and the surrounding areas. We are not able to live up to our mission of providing the citizens of Aberdeen access to many things. In fact, access is restricted and limited due to the current building. At its present configuration, and parking lot size, many library services and programs are being denied to a growing population. The layout of the building has been changed and reconfigured time and time again to accommodate a growing population and increased usage. Entry ways were taken over for reading alcoves, the bookmobile garage was converted to staff offices and computers were simply put wherever they fit.

When benchmarked against other communities our size, and other communities in South Dakota, our library lacks in the number of available items and services per capita. This is the result of a current building which is poorly configured for modern library usage, lacks functional space, lacks parking spaces, and is plagued by water infiltration. Our current library does not reflect the needs of a growing community or our values as a community.

Limited Collections: lack of shelving space limits the size and diversity of the various collections (books, CDs, magazines, DVDs, reference materials, and historic archives).

Shortage of Computers: Many of Aberdeen’s citizens do not have access to computers and the current computer stations provided at the library are not enough to meet demand.

Scarce Seating: The current library does not provide enough inviting space for reading, studying or gathering in groups throughout the building.

Lack of Program and Meeting Space: Current meeting and programming space is in the basement with no exterior windows, low lighting, and can only be accessed during normal hours of operation. Use of the space is now limited to library programs, despite requests from outside groups and clubs.

Reduced Children’s Programs: Children’s early literacy programs are filled to capacity at the current library; parents and children are turned away due to the lack of space. Flooding has been so regular that the Children’s room has been permanently abandoned. Children must now share space with everyone else, leaving little space for engaging programs and events. Families report that they feel uncomfortable exposing their kids to others who might want to be reading or studying, so they leave as quickly as they can.

Water Infiltration: Chronic water infiltration, including leaks from the roof and windows, have compounded the flooding that has occurred in the basement on numerous occasions. Mold, dirt, humidity and the ongoing threat of flooding have rendered only 30% of the basement usable for library activity (meeting rooms).Screen Shot 2015-06-23 at 1.35.17 PM

Aged Infrastructure: Constructed in 1963, the current library building is not in full compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act and lacks the electrical, cabling, and internet services required by any modern-day structure.

An Uninspiring Setting: The current library has low ceilings, cramped quarters, bad lighting, obscured windows, and a hodge-podge of furnishings. This does not provide for a space that energizes and inspires patrons. It is not inviting.

Limited Access to Technology: The so called, “Digitial Divide” is very present in Aberdeen and more and more people are wishing to learn and access computer/internet-based technology and services, but simply don’t know how, or can’t afford the technology for their home. Insufficient computer devices and work stations prevent many from bridging this digital divide.

How We Used Our Library- the Numbers

Straight facts: the numbers

  • 123,210 Patron Visits
  • 51,880 Reference Transactions
  • 65,997 Magazine and other items check-out
  • 38,867 Ebook and other electronic item check outs
  • 13,818 Youth and Adults registered for programs
  • 146,400 Book check-outs
  • 7,165 Registered library card holders
  • 2,880 one-to-one assistance program sessions
  • 53,000+ Technology uses (30 minutes computer/laptop/tablet sessions
  • 343 Youth and adult programs
  • 256,044 Total number of items circulated in 2014
  • Library Patrons on average consist 20% of visitors to Aberdeen

Libraries do matter

Google can’t help us all the time…

If you were airdropped, blindfolded, into a strange town and given nothing but a bus ticket, to where would you ride that bus? You might be surprised to learn that there’s only one good answer, and that’s the public library. The library is the public living room, and if ever you are stripped of everything private—money, friends and orientation—you can go there and become a human again.

Of course, you don’t have to be homeless to use a library, but that’s the point. You don’t have to be anyone in particular to go inside and stay as long as you want, sit in its armchairs, read the news, write your dissertation, charge your phone, use the bathroom, check your email, find the address of a hotel or homeless shelter. Of all the institutions we have, both…Read more

Are libraries a thing of the past?

When people think that libraries are a thing of the past…

Many predict that the digital age will wipe public bookshelves clean, and permanently end the centuries-old era of libraries. As libraries’ relevance comes into question, librarians face an existential crisis at a time when students need them the most. Despite their perceived obsolescence in the digital age, both libraries and librarians are irreplaceable for many reasons. Nearly twenty reasons, in fact. We’ve listed them here:

1. Not Everything is Available on the Internet: The amazing amount of useful information on the web has, for some, engendered the false assumption everything can be found online. It’s simply not true. Google Books recognizes this. That’s why…Read more

An escape from reality

The library is the perfect place to go…

Younger Americans can hardly imagine a time when you had to visit a library to research the population of Phoenix in 1980. Google now does that in seconds.

Entire books are downloaded to tablets in minutes. Classics from “Moby Dick” to Shakespeare’s tragedies come virtually free. A project called the Digital Public Library of America now seeks to…Read more

Libraries hold the key

Libraries help more people then you think…

♦ Libraries are portals to all of the world’s knowledge. And librarians make sure that knowledge continues to be recorded and saved for the future, even as information-storage devices and formats change.

♦ The information kept in libraries helps everyday people start their own small businesses, which helps grow the economy.

♦ If libraries are not essential, then why…Read more

Libraries are more then just books

Libraries are a safe haven…

Libraries have played an important role in this country, helping generations of immigrants, young people, job seekers and readers to learn, stay connected and get ahead in life. Offering access to free books, newspapers and, later, computers, they opened up a world of knowledge and ideas for millions of people. But now, with information literally at our fingertips on smartphones and tablets, are libraries still important?

Do we still need libraries?…Read more

We are still using the library

People of all ages are still going to the library…

LOS ANGELES — Think teens and 20-somethings who are used to looking up everything on smartphones have little use for the public library?

Think again.

People in their 20s and older teens are just as likely as older Americans to have visited a public library in the last year — and about as likely to have taken out books or browsed the shelves once they got there, a new study from the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project finds. Nearly two out of three said they had a library card.

Young people do use libraries differently: They are nearly twice…Read more