Posts Tagged ‘services’

What a fabulous idea this is, highlighting yet again just how great public libraries are.  I wonder if we could get our local lines company to do a similar thing.

The Latest Public Library Loan? Electricity Meters By David Rapp [From the Library Journal]

Spurred by concerns about conservation and cost, public utilities across the country have begun to partner with libraries, enabling loans of portable Kill A Watt electricity meters, which can be used to gauge home power usage.

Once home, a patron plugs the meter into the wall, plugs an appliance into the meter, and enters electricity rate information. The meter then shows how much power the appliance uses and how much that power costs.

Broad interest nationally

The meters are a huge hit in some libraries: at the Seattle Public Library (SPL), there are currently 660 holds on 100 meters, according to the SPL’s online catalog.

Such initiatives have been underway in several library systems over the past year or so, including the Boston Public Library (BPL) (announced in June 2009), where the initiative is a partnership with the city and the power company, and the SPL (announced in May 2010), a partnership with the local power company.

A program instituted by the Georgia Public Library Service (GPLS) in Atlanta began in August 2009, funded with a one-time grant through a state agency, the Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority (now called the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority). “Ours was definitely not the first,” GPLS Communications Director David Baker told LJ, adding that at the time there had already been smaller programs in Illinois, Maine, and New Hampshire.

Continue reading here.


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In an example of how much library services are changing , and how their role in the communities they serve are changing, comes the following story.

Check It Out: Get Your Groceries At The Library by Donna Marie Owens

On a bright spring morning in Baltimore, retiree Gwen Tates goes over her weekly grocery list — oatmeal, I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter, pea soup. But it’s where she’s shopping that might surprise you: at the public library.

Under a new city program, patrons can order groceries online and pay with cash, credit or food stamps. The orders are filled by Santoni’s supermarket, a longtime Baltimore grocer. They deliver the items to the library the next day. Tates says she loves the convenience.

“I pay with my charge card. They swipe it right here. I come back to the library tomorrow and they’ll have it all bagged up and ready to go,” she says.

The Program

The Virtual Supermarket Project is part of a city push to make healthy food more accessible in communities where major supermarkets are scarce. Baltimore’s health department launched it last month at two of the city’s public library branches. They’re located on opposite ends of town: one neighborhood is mostly African-American and working-class, the other racially and economically mixed.

These areas lack large, competitively priced supermarkets within walking distance — sometimes called “food deserts.” Both communities have plenty of fast-food and corner stores, but many tend to offer less healthy fare.

“In Baltimore, where we’re working at with the libraries, you see that the mortality burden from diet-related causes like diabetes, stroke and heart disease are among the highest in the city,” says Ryan Petteway, a city epidemiologist.

Petteway and other health department staffers spend a few hours each week helping patrons order their groceries online. One is Jackie Coles, a single mother of three who works as a custodian.

Like most in this neighborhood, she doesn’t own a car.

“The market around here has been closed for a little over a year,” Coles says. “And you have to go so far to get to another market. You know, you have to pay somebody to take you. Or it’s a long walk.”

But Coles is now a regular at the library. She gets books, plus easy access to healthier food options.

“Fruit is fresh. The vegetables are fresh. I get the butchered meat and all. It’s really good,” she says.

Getting People To Try Something New

So far, about two dozen people have signed up for the program. It’s currently funded by a $60,000 grant from the federal stimulus package.

It’s too soon to determine long-term viability, but organizers are hopeful.

“It’s just a matter of getting people to overcome the barrier of trying something new,” says Pooja Aggarwal, a medical student at Johns Hopkins who’s taken a year off to tackle public health projects like this one.

Baltimore’s new mayor, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, thinks the project is an innovative solution until more major supermarkets build in these neighborhoods.

“I think at a point when we are doing what we need to do to make our city better, safer and stronger, we’ll attract that investment,” she says. “But I’m so proud that we have the use of technology to fill in that gap till development catches up.”

Baltimore library officials say other cities have inquired about possibly replicating their system. If the program is successful, the goal is to partner with additional stores and possibly expand to other parts of the city.


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I think I have mentioned it before, but I read and write in the Science fiction/ speculative fiction genres. One of the core elements in this genre is the question “What if?” This question has been coming to the fore of my thinking in regards to public libraries recently.

With the pressure on budgets, the Auckland Super City merger, reading charges being reintroduced, the launch of the Ipad and the emerging ebook market amongst other events I have been pondering the long term viability and nature of the public library. For me, the public library should and must have a place in the future community but what shape and form will it take?

After my post this morning on South Taranaki’s library charges Paul Reynolds on Twitter posted this “Is it time to canvass and lobby for a national public library offer with statutory protection? I think it is. Thoughts invited.”

I too have had thoughts on this. We are a small country population wise, but large geographically. Is a National Public Library service viable? What form would it take? Who would pay for it? What would be advantages? Disadvantages?

So here are some thoughts:

A single national public library would have a single membership database. No longer would you need to join different systems if you work in different councils. Nor when you shift.

A single national public library would have a single LMS. This would be bad for vendors, but good for libraries. The merge buying power would be able to produce/buy a top of the line system.  

There would also have ramifications for EPIC. One system would mean one subscription to the resources. Potentially the combined buying power would mean a lot more resources available.  

This could potentially result in saving across the board.

A single LMS would mean that there would be a lot less cataloguers around the country. You would only one team. It would also impact on the scope of how District Librarians work.

It would also have ramifications for the Interloan system, as all public library systems would be the one and the same. Thoughts would have to be put into how to manage demand and reserves from around the country.

Overall there could be some serious benefits for such a service, there are also a large number of potential pitfalls and problems. Getting all the councils country wide on board would be a huge undertaking.

Is Paul right though? Is it time for this discussion?


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