September Director's Dish

How many times have we heard that public libraries are no longer simply warehouses, warehouses stocked with books, more books, and stuff… and nothing else? Libraries are, instead, moving out of choice and necessity towards community center models that emphasize collaborative work and active engagement, activities that promote, at times, noise. Well, throw in a ‘shush’ here and a ‘be quiet’ there, and you might be surprised at how strongly held a notion, the warehouse stereotype, still persists.

I’d like to think Ida Rupp, Erie Islands Library, and the future new peninsula branch fosters and will foster a spirit of balance; to an extent, a patron could expect during the same visit quiet and solitude as well as listen to an enthusiastic children’s program full of dancing, clapping, and singing. Either way, a patron could, potentially, experience both ends of the spectrum.

But let’s return to the idea of a warehouse and the sense of balance. A public library system like Ida Rupp’s can and does still hold, organize, and maintain a very physical collection: books, movies, magazine, toys, and technology; the library is a tactile environment. However, I’m still surprised by the revelatory reaction I receive from patrons, friends, and relatives who marvel at the fact that the library has (for years) access to a wide variety of digital content in a, yes, wide array of media.

Sure, there are some of us who will never be converted to reading a book on a Kindle or, before that, navigating the rules in downloading it in the first place. Some of us will still much prefer reading our copy of ‘The Blade’ or ‘The New Yorker’ with the touch and feel of newsprint and glossiness between our fingers, not at the tip of them. However, I’ve increasingly become aware of how many of us aren’t even aware that a public library like ours proves digital access.

If I were to recommend some intuitive digital content that Ida Rupp and our system provides, the list would include: Hoopla (media such as movies and music) and Zinio (magazines). For those more adventuresome, I’d recommend the following: Overdrive and the Ohio Digital Library (among other things, audiobooks and digital books) and EBSCOHost (popular and academic articles). All of the aforementioned can be found via the website under these tabs: ‘Read, Watch, Listen’ and ‘Interests’.

The library is, really, more than just a warehouse of books and materials and, well, stuff. If you occasionally feel adventurous, however, the library is here to direct you, guide you towards items that, for many of us, still lay off the beaten path, digital included. The choice to move forward is just a call or a click, and a question, away.

Sincerely –

Tim Hagen

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