Ontario Library Association Super Conference 2019

This week, a few of us are off to Toronto to attend the annual Ontario Library Association Super Conference. It runs from Wednesday through Saturday, and includes lots of amazing speakers, author talks and book signings, fascinating and inspiring sessions with librarians talking about ALL sorts of library things, as well as an exciting two-day expo!

This year, we can take part in sessions like “Coding without Purpose: How to Ignore Fear and Just Get Started”, “Doing Data: A Fun an Innovative Way to Count What Matters”, and “Digitization in Ontario Public Libraries: A Fresh Look”. A typical session might be 45 minutes, and we try to attend as many as we can each day of the conference. They’re always interesting, innovative, and inspiring. We often come back from these conferences feeling like we have new tools to work with, a few new strategies to aid in areas that need revamping, and lots of great ideas that we could implement.

You can’t imagine what it’s like to be at a conference with thousands of librarians. Yes…thousands. But this year, we’ll be doing a bit of social media from the conference to give you a peek into what we’re experiencing. Make sure to follow us on Instagram and Facebook, and watch our stories for daily posts. It’s going to be SUPER fun!

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Libraries Pay More

Did you know that libraries pay a huge amount more for audiobooks and eBooks than for a physical copy of the book? And did you also know that many audiobooks aren’t even available to libraries…even when they are bestsellers? This is an ongoing issue that libraries are struggling to overcome, especially since there is a growing demand for digital services such as this.

Libraries are crucial to exposing people to new authors, for promoting books, and for keeping publishers above water. But it’s difficult to get this idea across to the big publishers, who feel that their authors are being underpaid, or at least, undervalued.

When we purchase books for libraries, we might purchase several copies, depending on the demand for the book and the number of branches. However, each book will be read by multiple people, and publishers feel like this is “cheating” both them and the authors out of residuals. The same is true for audiobooks and ebooks, but on a much more dire scale. A physical book will most likely only last about 24 reads before it becomes worn and needs to be replaced. But a digital copy of a book can be used over and over without decay. It sounds like the argument for paying more is good.

But our digital copies are limited to about the same number of reads through the systems that our libraries use, such as Libby (formerly OverDrive), and Hoopla. Once they reach the checkout limit, another copy must be purchased, whether the digital copy is in fine form or not.

So why are publishers charging twice or even three times as much for a digital copy? Libraries can’t afford to purchase more, simply because we could buy other books…newer books, or different versions of those books. And if the bestsellers aren’t even available to libraries, then we’re losing out again.

Libraries have started a movement using the hashtag #eContentForLibraries to help spread the word. You can read all about the movement here.

Go to the page and read it. If you feel strongly that libraries are being treated unfairly, share the information, and be sure to use the hashtag above. Or contact the publishers directly, doing the same. If enough voices are heard on this issue, maybe libraries will be able to offer patrons more. We’d love to, but we can’t do this alone.

#eContentForLibraries

The Best Gifts Are Free!

It’s gift giving season. At the library, we know budgets can get really tight, and time seems to dwindle down to nothing. That’s where public libraries come into play. Trust us…we’ve got you covered!

Visit a museum together.

Museums can be expensive, especially if you want to attend as a family. Our library offers family passes to Ottawa and area museums, the National Art Gallery, The Brockville Aquatarium, Rideau Valley Conservation Areas, Ontario Provincial parks, and Gatineau Park Ski Trails, just to name a few. All you need is a library card to experience any of these amazing places with your family…for little to no money at all. (Some places charge for parking, and some have a small fee involved. Please ask.) What a great way to spend some quality time together over the holidays!

Attend a class.

We have programs for babies, toddlers, school age children, teens, adults and seniors at the library. Most are totally free, and some of them even include snacks! Learn about your computer or cell phone, attend a financial seminar, safeguard your health by attending a workshop about food, meet new people at a writers’ meeting or adult craft night, join a cookbook book club and go home full, or attend a movie night and enjoy some popcorn. Most of our programs only require registration, and we advertise well in advance. Make sure to pick up the latest newsletter to see what’s happening all season long.

Do a puzzle.

Our library has a HUGE collection of puzzles donated by patrons that you can take home and bring back. Choose from 100 pieces to 1000 pieces, in many different styles and subjects. Or stop by for an hour and help us put together our always ongoing puzzle in a quiet space. If you’re a puzzle addict, we always have puzzles for “sale”, too. Donate whatever you think the puzzle is worth, and then pass it on to someone else when you’re finished!

Download free eBooks, Audiobooks, TV shows, movies or music.

Did you know we offer TWO great resources for downloading free media? Get the HOOPLA app, or download LIBBY to enjoy bestsellers, binge watch shows, or learn something new. All you need is your library card and PIN. It’s easy, with minimal setup, and thousands of options for the whole family.

Fast, free WiFi.

If you’ve given up your printer, don’t have the internet at home, or you want to get out of the house to work on that books you’ve been meaning to write, we have fast, free WiFi, with lots of options. Bring your own device and find a comfy chair to surf the web. Hop onto the express computer for 15 minutes to check your email, or log into one of the regular computers using your library card to enjoy an hour online.

Join a club.

We’re not just about book clubs, you know. Although we do have book clubs for teens, adults, and even a special book club for food lovers (our cookbook book clubs is one of the fastest growing clubs in our library!), we also have an RPG gaming night, reading clubs for kids and teens and adults a few times during the year, and our monthly adult craft club.

And this just skims the surface of what the library has to offer. We have a warm space during the winter months, and lots of cool areas during the summer. We have areas for working, tutoring, reading, or sitting. We have lots of space to advertise your business, and places to find out what’s going on in our community. View some artwork, or buy a used book for your vacation. There is lots to do at the library! Talk with a librarian and find out how we can make your library experience even better. And don’t forget about us during the holidays…we’ll be open much of the time, so pop in to pick up a schedule.

See you at the library!

New Library Ideas

As many of our patrons know, we’re planning a bit of a refurb for our library in the near future, and that means we have lots of ideas swirling around our heads. While we might not have the $245 million budget of Calgary’s new Central Library, it certainly has plenty of wonderful features that are inspiring us right now. A performance hall? Maybe not, but the quiet spaces, and children’s area are beautiful representations of what good design looks like.

Take a look at the video for a great overview, and you can read more from the Calgary Herald to see what else was incorporated into the new space. Tell us what you love most….we’d love to know!

Eye in the Sky

If you’ve been to any of our space talks with local astronomer Frank Hitchens, you’ll be excited to know he’s visiting us with a new one!

Join us on Monday, October 29 at 6:30pm for “EYE IN THE SKY: THE HISTORY AND FUTURE OF THE HUBBLE SPACE TELESCOPE”. It will be an interesting discussion about one of the most productive scientific instruments ever built.

Please call to register for this event at 613-257-2702. Spaces are limited!

eReader, Tablet, Phone, Computer? Help!

It’s that time again…time to answer all those burning questions about eReaders. It seems like every year, we go through a cycle of time where people turn up with new devices and need help downloading books. Maybe it’s the summer, when people are traveling and need the ability to take multiple books with them without the extra weight. Or maybe it’s the holidays, when well-meaning family or friends purchase those devices as gifts, and then go happily back to their lives, leaving their recipient with millions of questions on how to use the thing. Whatever the reason, we have a few suggestions.

While we can’t recommend specific devices, we can steer you toward the easiest options for YOU.

I want to be able to read an eBook on a device outside in the bright sunshine.

Then an eReader with some sort of real paper technology is what you’re looking for. Tablets aren’t really capable, and some eReaders just don’t use the technology. But if you’re only interested in being able to read on the beach, do your research and find a device that mimics paper while lighting it enough that you can read while outside. They’re out there, but not on all devices.

I want to listen to audibooks while I’m at the gym.

You have several options. The easiest one is to download an app onto your cell phone or tablet and plug in the earphones. We have some great free apps for downloading audiobooks—Libby (formerly OverDrive), and Hoopla are both available in your app stores, require minimal setup, and you can be listening in minutes!

You can also download audiobooks to your computer, and transfer them to some eReaders that have MP3 capabilities. This option is rather involved (a specific, kind of antiquated program to help you transfer the items, a computer, and your eReader). It’s a little tricky. If you’re not into tricky, try another option. See above.

I want to read eBooks and listen to audiobooks on something other than my computer. And, oh, I’m over 40 and suddenly can’t read any fonts smaller than 14 point.

Don’t go the cell phone route. Even when you can pinch open a page to make it larger, you’ll only have a few words on your screen, and that can be annoying. You might be able to swing an eReader, which will help you make the font larger, but it’s also a bit tricky to download books (see above). What you need is a tablet!

You can do all of these things on a tablet, and you don’t need to purchase an expensive one to do it. As long as your tablet can download apps, you’re good to go. While the app won’t necessarily let you make the font larger, you’ll have plenty of screen to open the books on without sacrificing space. Try to aim for the largest screen you can, if you’re going to do eBooks specifically. But if you’re going for audibooks, you can size down for prize and go for the best deal. It’ll work great!

I want to be able to cast my audiobooks using Alexa or Google Home, or listen to them in the car on bluetooth.

For both of these, you’ll need special devices. To listen to audibooks using your Amazon Echo (Alexa) or Google Home, you need a subscription to Audible.ca. Libby and Hoopla books don’t work quite yet, although Hoopla might have something coming in the future.

To listen to audibooks in your car, you have to have Bluetooth installed in your car, and set the bluetooth to “on” on your phone. Then, you should be able to play your audiobooks through your car speakers just fine.

We love audiobooks and eBooks through both of our wonderful programs, but you do need to think about what you want your device to do before purchasing something to make sure you get the most out of it!

And ALL of your downloads from Libby and Hoopla count toward our circulation, so just because you might not be coming to the library as often for physical books doesn’t mean you aren’t moving our circulation along. Keep reading and keep listening! We love our patrons!

Libraries Replaced by Amazon? Absurd!

A recent Forbes article by Panos Mourdoukoutas recently made a lot of people crazy. It was called “Amazon Should Replace Local Libraries to Save Taxpayers Money”. I’d like to link it here, but the article appears to have been deleted fro the site, leading only to an error message now (which was really what we all thought).

But the uproar over it hasn’t stopped. Essentially, the author claimed that libraries weren’t needed because people now use Starbucks, Netflix, and Amazon more. He claimed we don’t need library spaces, and that they are underused. Apparently, the man hasn’t been to a library since he was a child.

As frustrating as the article was, it’s the backlash that has been the most interesting. You can find a great (although long) post from the Nocturnal Librarian here. She makes some great arguments, and has the facts to back it up. Although it’s a little difficult to read through the text, stick with it. It’s interesting.

And the tweets that follow Mourdoukoutas’ twitter post after his article ran are even better. And it applies just as much to Canadian libraries as it does to American libraries.

What do you think? Will Amazon ever give libraries a run for their money?