Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Thanks very much for the comment- our number one priority is to raise the money in the Library Foundation's Capital Campaign- if all goes well we expect shovels in the ground by mid 2012 and open in late 2014.

Friday, September 16, 2011

The next steps to the new Knowledge + Discovery Center

Last night the Carson City Supervisors voted 4-1 to move the City Center project forward- creating a real roadmap to opening the doors of the new Knowledge + Discovery Center.

First of all a big thank you to the entire Board of Supervisors- the hard work and difficulty of being an elected public official should never be underestimated- for many issues- and this one in particular- the emotions have run high- and decisions needing to be made have been difficult. I also sincerely thank everyone who spoke at this meeting and all the public meetings over the past few years- I believe about a dozen meetings for this project- each of them with significant public comment, input, questions and concerns about the project.

Issues that create divergent opinions may not be easy but they do demonstrate what a great country we live in where the public's business is debated and decided in an open forum. After many hours of public input I want to particularly emphasize the two speakers last night who said lets now move forward and work together which is very profound advice- that we will follow.

We now have much work to do- in particular a capital campaign to raise significant private funds for the new Knowledge + Discovery Center. The beautiful conceptual design in keeping with the Carson City motto- "proud of its past- confident of its future"- can be viewed here:


We also have much work on the functions and spaces of the library and would very much like to hear from the community what they want "in" the library- how we integrate services and resources and make it the best it can be for everyone on our community- so please comment with your ideas.

Finally thank you to the community- Carson City is a wonderful city and one I am so proud to represent as your Library Director.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Library Changes

As we celebrate National Library Week I wanted to let everyone know some amazing facts about the Carson City Library. In March we checked out 37,433 items we exchanged 4658 paperbacks and magazines so that is a grand total of 42,091-just in the month of MARCH! At that rate our library will be in the half million circulation per year! As of March 31, 35,557 people have cards or about 65% of our population- and they are coming to use them- this month we had 26,602 visits to the library- which also would translate to over 300,000 visits a year. Every service we provide is being used more and we hope it continues to grow. If you were one of the 26,602 visitors in March you might have noticed lots of things are moving around. We are planning for the second phase of the RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) system. In this second phase we will install a machine called an automated materials handler which will make us even more human efficient. It will be located where the fiction books and computers are located now. This system will check in library material just as the new check out system does - multiple items at a time. We have reduced the amount of fiction books. We are “weeding” or removing books that are not being checked out on a regular basis. But rest assured we will still have books- in fact we purchased about 8,000 new books and materials this year alone, and the book collection will continue to be well over 110,000 items- and the amount of materials checked out in March demonstrates we have many books that people want. Your library is changing and evolving to meet demands and to use resources efficiently. This facility was built for a community of 30,000 people. We now have 55,000 and many users from surrounding counties. As we expand services and see more users I believe we demonstrate on a regular basis that a bigger and more modern library will be well worth the investment.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

What would the Kindle equivalent of the Library be?

There have been several people who say the Kindle is the new library so I decided to follow that line of reasoning to its conclusion, the first and most important part of the argument assumes libraries are only about books-both now and in the future. The 1000+ visitors who come here every day and many of those who use computers, ask reference questions, get homework help, use back issues of magazines and newspapers, go to Storytime, Love on a Leash, the Lego club, book discussions or adult programs might suggest we are more than books- however for the sake of argument let’s look at the math for the Kindle book model.

In Carson City 30,000 plus people have and use a library card- that is they have had some activity in the last two years but to be conservative let’s say only 20,000 people will need or want a Kindle or perhaps 10,000 people already have one- so to supply that device would cost $2,780,000 dollars about twice the annual budget of the library- but a onetime investment right? The kindle has a one-year warranty, two years is an additional cost to purchase so you might suppose that with reasonable care they will last five years- so every five years you would need to replace them and of course provide them for new residents- and perhaps find some way to get them back from people who move…hmm …would require some logistics- wasn’t this supposed to be easier, cheaper and better...and eliminate the public library?

Carson City Library checks out 400,000 books per year the average cost of books from Amazon for the Kindle is about $9.00 but again let’s assume that those prices continue to fall- and yes some are free-so 400,000 books at $5.00 each is 2 million bucks- wow that’s way more than the whole yearly budget of the library.

Amazon does not sell their e-books to libraries they do not have a multiple use model in fact any sharing must be set up when the Kindle is first purchased- so the library model simply doesn’t work- the popular books would be purchased over and over again by the library, rather than the single purchase used over and over again in the present public library model.

So you’re saying why do we have to buy Kindles and books for Carson City residents anyway? And the answer is of course we don’t. We could eliminate public libraries-not a mandated service- save that money for other City services and those that can afford books and information can have them and those that can’t well they should just work harder to earn the money to do so.

So if you think there is no value to providing reading materials and information without a cost in a democratic society then it is correct that the Kindle is the next library- but not the next public library- the Kindle Library is a return to the private subscription library of the 19th century- information for the wealthy and the privileged- the masses can just read and learn from what is provided to them free or they can trade and scavenge information for themselves…not the society I want to live in- not the America of my choice- is it yours?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Knowledge Center for Nevada’s state capital

There is considerable discussion both locally and nationally about the future of libraries. There are those who hold a “Kindle” in their hands and proclaim the library as we know it is dead- yet despite those type of pronouncements the library in Carson City and public libraries across the nation in some of the worst financial times libraries have ever faced- continue not only to exist but to expand their reach, influence and importance in their community.

The proposed City Center project offers this City a unique opportunity to build a 21st century Knowledge Center AKA library like no other in our country. Our Knowledge Center will have many similarities to the IGT/Mathewson Knowledge Center at the UNR campus, but it will also be different because it is public library- which means it belongs to everyone.

When Mae Adams left the bulk of her estate from her family’s ownership of the Carson Nugget to the Carson City community she stipulated it must particularly benefit young people. There are no doubt a number of worthy places that help the youth of Carson City and a number of organizations that provide benefit to great numbers in our community- but I think there are none that are in the position to serve everyone, from the least fortunate in the community to the very wealthy, from the new born to the person near the end of their life, to the baby, preschooler, child, young adult, adult, senior…there isn’t a single gender, age or socioeconomic strata in the Carson City community the public library does not serve.

Nationwide public libraries have become an even more essential resource in these very tough economic times. A recent report Perceptions of Libraries 2010 indicates that nationwide 81% of those economically impacted by the current national financial crisis have and use a library card. In Carson City when unemployment has been around 14% for more than a year this library can attest to being critical to those hurting in the downturn. In the past year every measure of library use is up- people with library cards, checking out of materials, children’s programs, computer use, assistance with information requests, every service we provide is more in demand and more utilized- so it is impossible to provide any proof in any way that this library is becoming obsolete. What we do know is the facility of 900 N. Roop is simply too small to do any of our services well- every innovation or change causes a disruption to another service- the lack of space limits us- we can’t be much more than we are today- even though we work very, very hard to do just that.

However, an opportunity has become available to be different to take everything we do well and do it better- take our services to a very different level. The plan for the Knowledge Center comes close to tripling our space- adding the most needed element- room to have more materials, room for all ages of children, room for computers and other technology, room to serve the business community with specialized resources and meeting places, room to be
Carson City’s community gathering place- the place where all are welcome and all gain something of value from visiting. Beyond being of value to our community, new libraries located in downtowns all over America have proven to be economic catalysts. From Seattle to Denver to Salt Lake City, a new library is seen by urban planners as a true economic catalyst Wayne Servile editor of the Planning Commissioners Journal wrote “when libraries are located downtown there’s also a special synergy at work. Libraries generate increased business for local merchants while those shopping or working downtown visit the library as part of their day. Libraries and community. They’re really inseparable.”

Friday, March 26, 2010

Questions on Library Use

The plans for building a new library (AKA- knowledge center, resource center, discovery library) has created a lot of talk in the town. It seems much of the talk centers on how many people really visit the library and that there is some magical number of visitors (and types of visitors) that means we should or should not build a new library. Just to clear up any misconceptions on the way we count visitors- we have a people counter at the front door and every morning before we open we take the number from the day before and log it, that number is divided by 2 (they come in they go out) and recorded. Staff and volunteers access the library through a rear staff door. There are varying levels of sophistication with these type of counters but in my 23 years of experience, the way we do it is pretty much how libraries get attendance figures- are there errors possible? sure ...kids run in and out? sure...

In case anyone would like to see that raw data here it is from July-2009- Feb 2010:

Library Attendance July 2009- Feb 2010

July 25370 25 days = 1014
Aug 25224 25 days = 1008
Sept 25359 25 days = 1014
Oct 29571 26 days = 1137
Nov 21287 22 days = 967
Dec 20733 25 days = 829
Jan 21346 24 days = 889
Feb 22216 23 days = 966

So about 1000 a day- some days more- some days less, but its just ONE measure just like books checked out, Internet sessions, requests for information, attendance at programs, use of databases, downloaded books, Summer Reading, book sales in the Friends store...the list of things we do (and count) goes on and on.

As I work this afternoon I see a mostly full parking lot despite the fact people must navigate construction barriers and cones to get here. I know the question of use isn't debatable- people use this library.

Rather than questioning numbers and casting aspersions on their validity I would ask people to spend more time thinking of a new library in a holistic way- how does our current library add to every one's quality of life? How might a bigger technologically advanced library benefit everyone? And the really big question: IF we don't take advantage of this very unique opportunity to improve and expand library services what will that say about us as a community and where our priorities are?

Some have said the community answered the question about a new library in 1998- 12 years ago, by about 400 votes the community said "a bigger library is not needed". Has the question really been permanently answered? Did the 18 year old and older voter get to make that decision for everyone in perpetuity?

I'll close with a quote from a new study about Internet use in public libraries which says:

Americans across all age groups reported they used library computers and Internet access. Teenagers are the most active users. Half of the nation’s 14- to 18-year-olds reported that they used a library computer during the past year, typically to do school homework.

The current library has eight Internet computers for kids of all ages not just teenagers, a community our size should have at least 40 available and space for kids to be kids. The truly inadequate library space for our young people is very, very hard to dispute- I believe we have the most undersized library for our population in the state, but for kids we are hands down the weakest in our state, and that should matter.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Editorial from Vice Chair of the Library Board-Sandy Foley

Homework, timelines, mapping, transparency. These words, often associated with education and with current governmental concerns, can be applied to the library's journey from wishful thinking to pending reality.

When the idea of a new library was being formulated, a city-wide survey was conducted to ascertain what kind of facility the community envisioned. Data was mapped, meetings were held and a strategic plan was formulated. The Library Board set up advisory groups and invited experts to speak before its televised meetings.

The board also commissioned a space needs assessment document that accounted for the use of every square foot in the new library, which will ultimately guide us to a state-of-the-art building that meets demands long into the future. We have looked at any and all options available for land and buildings, always keeping the financial ramifications and options in mind.

Because the library is and will always be a presence in the community, board members, staff, friends and the Library Foundation have worked with anyone and everyone who has been receptive to our dream. We have visited libraries throughout the state and the country and have joined with city managers, supervisors and business project developers to find the best fit for Carson City.

We have been on committees, worked with the Board of Supervisors, served with Downtown Redevelopment and the Downtown Consortium, and made our aspirations known in print and nonprint media.

We have done our homework and were poised and ready when the opportunity arose to become an integral part of the Carson Nugget Development Project.

Our homework, timeline, planning, transparency, financial stewardship and commitment have served us well, and we are ready to work with all parties to build toward what Carson City can be and not become mired in malaise.

It has been said that this development will burden future generations with tax consequences. How can a library, a public transit hub, a plaza, public parking and investment in cutting edge, high paying technology jobs (the public part of a public/private partnership) be considered a burden?

The burden is the status quo and a future that is questionable at best.

• Sandy M. Foley is vice chairperson of the Carson City Library Board of Trustees.