Bertha Bartlett Public Library news

Staff Writer
Story City Herald

—by Kolleen Taylor

National Library Week (April 10 through 16) is next week, and throughout the country, people will be talking about their public libraries, their school libraries, and all the other libraries that make up this world. It is a time of the year when people remember that libraries provide educational opportunities for ALL the community, filling a role that we at the public library consider to be a duty.

Having a public library in your community is a privilege; a great one at that! Although Iowa has many more libraries than most states per capita (ranking 3rd behind Vermont and Maine), there are still many small communities that are unable to support a library. Public Libraries are supported by tax dollars, and generate very little revenue outside taxes. Community and financial support are the two most important aspects for a town to approach even the most rudimentary of libraries.

The following points that seem to be true also for Story City, were noted by the American Library Association (ALA), after reviewing statistics from the 2014 fiscal year:

*Academic, public and school libraries are experiencing a shift in how they are perceived by their communities and society. No longer just places for books, libraries of all types are viewed as anchors, centers for academic life and research and cherished spaces.

*From offering free technology workshops, small business centers and 24/7 virtual access to e-Books and digital materials, libraries are transforming communities, schools and campuses.

*The lack of diverse books for young readers continues to fuel concern. Over the past 12 months the library community has fostered conversations and fueled a groundswell toward activism to address the lack of diversity reflected in children’s literature—both in content and among writers and illustrators.

*Digital literacy continues to grow as an important library service. Research shows that families are increasing their access to digital media, but they lack the knowledge to use it effectively in a way that enables learning.

*Makerspaces are trending and provide evidence that libraries are continuing to evolve beyond the traditional focus on collections.

*Many federal government policy and regulatory issues are of importance to libraries and the people who use them. Policies related to personal privacy, library funding, workforce development, and copyright law are a few of the issues of interest to the library community.

According to a survey completed in 2014 more than 90% of all surveyed perceived that libraries were important to their communities. Most who work with libraries know this, and know they must be proactive and it must engage its community. Increasingly, libraries bring community members together to articulate their aspirations and then innovating in order to become active partners and a driving force in community development and community change.

Even though downloadable e-books and audiobooks continue to grow in usage, the ALA discovered this interesting fact: “Print remains the foundation of Americans’ reading habits,” the Pew researchers found. Most people who read e-books also read print books, they reported, and only 4 percent of readers described themselves as “e-book only.”

There are other points the ALA highlighted, which we haven’t experienced here in Story City, but we are paying attention to the trends, as we too, are noticing a shift in the patterns of our use and are trying to adjust our collection and services to serve our community.