Finland Has a New Library–and it’s AMAZING!

In Finland, libraries are the second-highest rated public service. The first, is drinking water. Municipalities MUST have a library, and so the country boasts 853 public libraries in total. The newest is Oodi, built on the most prestigious piece of land in the country—directly across from the Finnish Parliament.

Do all of these things sound strange? In North America, where library services are being cut left and right, and many libraries are closing their doors all together, the idea of libraries being not only essential services, but revered, sounds downright perfect! At least to this librarian.

Oodi has been 20 years in the making, built to celebrate the country’s 100th anniversary, and made to be not only a gorgeous design, but full of the practical and wistful alike. But here is where it gets really fascinating—only one floor of the building is dedicated to books!

We are well aware that libraries aren’t simply for books anymore. They’ve long been places of exploration, of creativity, of social meeting spaces, and digital resources. But Oodi takes this to the next level. There is a restaurant, a cinema, and a meeting space. They house “skills labs”, where people can go to learn new things, like using 3D printers or musical instruments. And eventually, a space with a kitchen and large public room might be the destination of birthday parties or other celebrations. And don’t worry, you’ll still find librarians. They wander the floors, helping people access all of the amazing things within the walls, making sure no one leaves without a satisfying experience.

You can read more about this wonderful new public library right here.

 

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The Public

A new film by Emilio Estevez called “The Public” was inspired by an article which appeared in the LA Times in 2007 by Salt Lake City Public Library deputy director Chip Ward, and tells the tale of a librarian-led standoff with police after a group of homeless people take shelter in a Cincinnati library.

Libraries are becoming the safe havens of many people who either don’t have places to go, or need some respite from the elements. And while it seems like it might be the directive of libraries to provide space for any person who needs it, it can be a real problem for people who don’t believe that truth. Our spaces are open long hours. We have heat in winter and cool air in summer. We don’t require anyone to pay a fee to enter our buildings, nor have any specific purpose to be there. Everyone is welcome to enter a library and stay as long as they want.

“The Public” delves into the story of a group of homeless people who decide to stay, and a group a librarians who want to help. Strangely enough, it’s not always librarians who have the final say as to what happens in their libraries. Boards and municipalities often have input, as in this movie, and it makes for a lot of tension.

It sounds like an interesting premise for a film–and while the reviews for this movie haven’t been stellar, it might be something those who work in the library community can appreciate most.

If you’ve already seen “The Public”, did you enjoy it?

Interlibrary Loans

We often get a lot of questions about interlibrary loans–the process of borrowing books for our patrons from other libraries. It’s a complicated process on our end, but shouldn’t be tricky for patrons. Here are a few things you need to know to get started.

Don’t expect your loan right away.

It takes time to order books from other libraries. While we might place the request within a few hours of you submitting your pink form to us, it can take up to several days for a library to reply, depending on the day of the week, and if there is a holiday involved. Then, the library that accepts the request must collect the item from their branch, package it up, and get it onto the courier that services our area. If their courier days are different than ours, your interlibrary loan might not leave their library for several days, and then be delayed slightly because of our courier delivery dates. That’s why we suggest it might take a few weeks for you to receive your order. Please be patient……we definitely will not have it available the next day.

DVDs are trickier to get than books.

Not every library loans their DVDs to other libraries. As a rule, we don’t offer that service. We’d rather our own patrons have the chance to borrow our DVDs, especially when they are part of a series. You can imagine that if a library loans a DVD set, it might be several weeks before they’d come back, even with a one-week loan period, due to courier schedules. We’ll cast a wide net to try to get you a specific DVD, but it might not be available.

Newly released books and DVDs are much harder to get.

For the most part, we order widely. Chances are, that new biography you’ve been wanting to read is already on our order list. But if it isn’t, we might not be able to fulfill the request. Most libraries won’t loan out their brand new books, again because they want to keep them available for their own patrons. So, if something was released within the last few calendar weeks, please keep your request for a few months. If we couldn’t get it right away, you might want to try again at about the six-month mark.

Why can’t I renew my interlibrary loans?

We can’t extend your interlibrary loan, but we can re-order it for you. We’ve already made a loan contract with the loaning library to borrow their item for a certain period. In that time, they might already have requests for it at their library, and will be expecting it back on time. Please take note of the date on your checkout slip, and the stamp on your ILL that reminds you we can’t extend the item past the due date. But….feel free to ask us to re-order it. Yes, it means, we’ll have to send it back, but hopefully, we can get it for you again quickly!

Why can’t I return my item to the loaning library myself? I work nearby!

It’s not a simple process borrowing books from other libraries. We all have our own systems, and we need to be able to keep a close eye on items loaned to us. Our system involves:

  • writing out a pink card request
  • logging into the online system and searching for your item
  • requesting that item from the other library
  • receiving an acceptance, which includes a special number for our records
  • unpackaging the item when it arrives
  • doing the paperwork to let the other library know we received it in good shape
  • preparing the item to go out to our patron, with an ILL slip that includes the library order number and date due
  • sending a message to our patron to let you know your item is waiting to be picked up
  • signing the book out when you pick it up
  • signing it back in when you return it
  • sending a notice to the lending library to let them know we’ve received the item back and will be shipping it via library courier
  • packaging your item for the courier or mail
  • prepping the boxes for the courier

As you can see, it involves a closely guarded paper trail so that we can continue to borrow items from other libraries. We love to be able to open up endless possibilities to our patrons with regards to our collection, and we love being able to offer this to other libraries as well.

Ask us about doing an interlibrary loan today!

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!

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!