Message to the Community from Luren E. Dickinson:
Did you hear about the grade school boy who went to summer camp for a week and took pictures of everything he did with a disposable camera? As his mother was driving him home, she asked what he had done with the camera. He said he had taken the pictures and then thrown the camera away. It was disposable, wasn’t it?
He insisted that the pictures must somehow be on their computer at home! His mother had to show him that the pictures were not on the computer just to convince him. It made her realize that his whole experience with photographs was from a digital perspective, as it is with more and more of the younger generation. We are now living with “screenagers” to whom things digital are second nature.
All sorts of people are carrying their screens with them. Laptop computers started outselling desktop computers two years ago. 70% of adults use the Internet compared to 93% of teens. For the moment, more adults (75%) are using cell phones than teens (63%), but that may change, too. And it is HOW younger people use the technology that is different.
Teens have access to digital cameras—whether a standard camera, one connected to their computer, or built into their cell phone—and 55% of them are taking photos everyday. These pictures are going onto websites, personal devices, social networking pages, podcasts, etc. Cell phone cameras can also be used as barcode scanners and have been used that way with great success in Japan and elsewhere for a number of years. There will be a push soon for consumers to scan barcodes in ads or on the products themselves to download additional information about the items or the company that produces them.
Two well-known groups, Disney and Nickelodeon, are even targeting preteens with supposedly “cyber safe” social networking sites, mimicking the young adult craze for sites like facebook and myspace. At the same time, there are post-teens (and even some middle-aged people) who are very much into video games and spend large amounts of time with massively multi-member online role-playing games (such as the World of Warcraft, which has over 8 million players), and virtual world sites (like Second Life, “an online society in a 3D world.”)
How do libraries fit into all of this? We have been trying to balance our traditional services with technology for well over a decade. And since the early 1980s, audiovisual materials have become an increasingly larger share of the items checked out by the public. Interestingly, however, annual book usage at the Shaker Library actually increased faster than video use 3.1% to 2.6%) in 2006. Last year’s biggest increase in the use of a particular format was for audiobooks, which increased 4.1%, while the use of music CDs fell 10.6%. There was almost no change in the use of magazines. Overall, though, print went from a 50% share of total circulation in 2005 to a 51% share in 2006.
We will examine these and other trends as part of our strategic planning process, which will begin with the interviewing of key community stakeholders by library planning consultant, Jeanne Goodrich, in early March. She will meet with the Strategic Planning Committee to discuss initial findings from the interviews, to review changing community demographics, and to analyze library trends. During our annual spring in-service program, Ms. Goodrich will meet with library staff to give an overview of the strategic planning process. Thursday evening, April 12, she will facilitate a Community Meeting of the key stakeholders, other community leaders, and local residents. For more information on the library’s strategic planning efforts, visit www.shakerlibrary.org
E. Dickinson, Director