I have been a Nevada County Library user since the third grade, when I discovered the Nevada City Library had books far more interesting than “The Adventures of Dick and Jane.”
When researching my book “Cobalt: The Legacy of the Blackbird Mine,” I spent more than 100 hours at the microfilm reader looking through old newspapers. I will spend even more on my next book project, tracing the development of Nevada County's technology cluster.
It would be a great loss to the community if our libraries were closed. I strongly support the effort to save the library with donation jars, telethons, and envelopes of donated cash.
However, are we saving the library we will need in the 21st century? Are we just saving a storehouse for the books that we all love and cherish, while ignoring the challenge of future community needs?
Let me explain. The Institute of Museum and Library Services studied Service Trends in U.S. Public Libraries, 1997-2007. They found, while library use was increasing, the circulation of books was decreasing in non-metro (rural) libraries. Over the study period, while nationwide library visits increased by 19 percent, book circulation dropped by 16 percent in rural libraries.
Visitors to the library were not coming to check out books, but to use the other services of the library: specifically, access to the Internet, to search for jobs, complete job applications and fill out online government forms.
With the current economic slowdown, our Nevada County libraries are now providing support for the job seekers. However, this is only the start of a transition that our libraries should consider.
The Davinci Institute has identified 10 key trends that will shape future library use: