This is the first part is a three-part series about the digital collection in the Pierce County Library system.
The Pierce County Library System began in 1946, with seven locations, that served about 55,000 residents of the rural and incorporated South Sound community. It has now grown into the state’s fourth largest library system, according to the web site, and serves approximatly 554,000 residents.
Alot has changed since 1946. But the library’s mission – to bring the world of information and imagination to all people of the community – has not, according to Communications Director, Mary Getchell.
“We are constently in contact with our patrons, our customer base and current tends.”
And the current trends, are leaning toward technology, even within the Pierce County Library System.
“They [our patrons] wanted convienience, they wanted constent access to the services and information we provide,” she said. “Everything, from national trends to other library system practices to bookstores saw a real preference for downloads of popular titles.”
It is no secret that technology, and the receiving of products via technological means, is quickly becomeing woven into the very fabric of our society. Things that would have been unthinkable only fifteen, and even ten years ago, have now become common place.
The way we consume infromation is evolving before our eyes, moving quickly from print media – books, newspapers, and magazines, to name a few – to online and technology-based media.
[See “U.S.A. Today” E-books are a hot story at libraries.]
According to Getchell, there was a clear spike in demand for e-reader downloads at the end of 2010 and more so at the beginning of 2011.
“As of right now, the Sony Reader and the Nook [of Barnes and Noble] are the most popular e-readers for patrons,” Getchell said.
Lisa McNamara, the senior librarian at the Sumner Public Library, agreed, “I’ve definatly seen a spike [in e-reader usage], especially in January 2011, after the holidays. People want to know how to use them and how to access the libraries [digital] collection.”
To McNamara, the benefits of a digital collection are numerous. “Things are never overdue, they’re never lost, damaged, and you don’t have to physically house them. They are accessible 24/7 through our web site, to me, that is huge.”
“In 2011, we are emphasizing the availability of our online resources,” Getchell said. “This year, we are working to offer an online library sysem, and a stronger emphasis on 24/7 access for both child and adult patrons. Also, later this year around spring time, we will be offering the option of downloadible music, in addition to our existing physical collection”
Although no one expects consumer habits to change overnight, you can rest assured that Mary Getchell, Lisa McNamara, and the rest of the staff at all branches of the Pierce County Library System are striving to provide the best possible product. Whether its of the “dead tree” or technology variety.
As Getchell concluded, “We are watching what people are accessing, what they are asking for, and doing our best to provide the best access to that product. We are stocking the shelves online like we do at all our physical locations.”