News

E-books may be future stars at Palo Alto libraries

City revises plans for Main Library to accommodate growth in electronic books

Seeking to accommodate the digital age, Palo Alto officials are revising design plans for new city libraries to enable more laptops and electronic books.

But not everyone is happy about the new approach, with some calling it a violation of promises from the 2008 library-bond election.

City officials and project architects from the Group 4 Architecture firm discussed the looming changes at a Tuesday night public meeting at Main Library. Main is the third and final library slated for major renovations under a $76 million bond measure residents approved in 2008.

Construction is underway at the Downtown Library and the Mitchell Park Library and Community Center. Work is slated to start at Main in 2012, shortly after the new Mitchell Park branch reopens.

When it reopens, the Main Library will have a new wing with a program room, along with new bathrooms and four group-study rooms.

But under recently revised plans, the book collection would remain the same or possibly even be reduced. That's because library officials are banking on electronic books becoming more popular in coming years and they want local libraries to be prepared for the digital era.

Though electronic books make up less than a percentage of the city's current collection, they are becoming more popular among local patrons. Ned Himmel, the city's interim library director, said the use of e-books within the library has gone up by more than 30 percent over the past year, based on .6 percent of circulation. The library has about 14,000 e-book titles, about 7 percent of its overall collection.

At Tuesday's meeting, Himmel predicted that "this year is the key year for use of e-books" and noted that Amazon is now selling more books for its Kindle than real books, in terms of new bestsellers.

"The trend is really toward electronic resources and the library has to reflect that use in the community," Himmel told an audience of about 20 residents.

"In the future, it's going to be even greater."

Not everyone, however, is happy about the shift. Several residents, most of them affiliated with the group Friends of the Palo Alto Library (FOPAL), urged staff and Group 4 officials to keep collection levels steady at the Main Library.

Jim Schmidt, president of the FOPAL board of directors, pointed to a poll that was taken before the 2008 vote in which 80 percent of the responders chose collection size as the most important factor for them in the library project.

FOPAL had voiced similar opposition last year, when library officials were planning to curtail the collection of traditional books at the Downtown Library. Staff ultimately agreed to add shelving to accommodate a larger collection at the small but central branch.

"I don't think the conversations about collections, in downtown or here, have been what I'd characterize as clean," Schmidt said. "And I wouldn't characterize where the Downtown Library came out and where the Main Library seems to be headed as consistent with the results of the poll."

Longtime FOPAL member Ellen Wyman also argued against reducing the book collection at Main and said city officials had promised before the 2008 vote to expand the collection.

"A great many people, me included, will see it as simply dishonest (for the city) to say that and then, at one of the two largest libraries in town, to reduce the size of collection," Wyman said.

"If they want to pass another bond measure in the next eon, they better not do it."

Group 4 and the Library Advisory Commission have wrestled with the question of collection size in recent months and concluded that the best way to plan for the future is to make the design at Main as flexible as possible.

Last month, the commission agreed to add seating to the Main Library and to make slight reductions in shelving. But members specified that the new design should make it easy to install new shelves should the need arise.

"We want flexibility of space -- flexibility in terms of how people use it today and how they might use it in the future," Commission Vice Chair Valerie Stinger said. "We need room for changes. We need room for what will happen 10 to 15 years forward."

Commissioner Bob Moss said the Main Library's design was prompted by recent trends in library usage, with fewer people coming into libraries exclusively to check out books and more sticking around to use their laptops or to hold activities.

"They come to be in a location where they can interact with each other," Moss said. "Part of the change is putting a meeting room in and designing it so people cam come to meeting rooms and interact."

The program room, which will be located in a newly constructed wing, aims to provide this meeting space. Dawn Merkes, an architect with Group 4, pointed to the overcrowded conditions at the library's periodical room, where the Tuesday meeting was taking place, as a good illustration for why the new room is needed.

"This is the perfect example for why we need program space," Merkes said. "We had to kick people out of this room and stop them from using newspapers and magazines because there was no space to hold this meeting other than in this part of the library.

"Currently, this library is having a huge challenge in finding program space because there is a demand in the community for additional program rooms."

Comments

 +   Like this comment
Posted by common sense
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 17, 2010 at 12:18 am

At the end of the article, they talk about having to kick people out of the periodical room to have their meeting as a reason to tradeoff space for collections for a "program" room. Does anyone else see the irony in this?

Many of the items in the periodical room are available on-line! yet the periodical room is crowded because people want to look at the physical item, not the electronic item.

I believe the same is true with books.

If what the city wanted to do is turn the library into some sort of mini-community center, they should have been clear with proposal; but it sounds more like the bond that we voted is being manipulated to provide for other facilities.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jeff
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 17, 2010 at 1:44 am

There are unfortunately some factual errors in this article.

One such error is the statement, "Though electronic books make up less than a percentage of the city's current collection…." Actually, they are already about 7% of the city's current collection, based on the number of titles available. The article confuses circulation (how many are checked out) with the collection (how many are available). What's less than one percent is actually the circulation – that is – only 0.6% of the library's circulation comes from ebooks. The fact that far more ebooks are available via the library than are being checked out, in a technically-sophisticated town like Palo Alto, undermines the contention that people are looking to our library for ebooks.

In fact, there are many sources of ebooks beyond libraries, and libraries are simply not significant distributors of ebooks, as is true for many other forms of modern communication. We don't expect libraries to provide us with online videos, given that YouTube, Hulu, and similar services already offer far more than libraries. There are numerous convenient sources and models of distribution evolving for ebooks, and libraries cannot even participate in many of these due to legal and economic restrictions.

The article also says that Main's book collection may stay the same size - but then contradicts itself by later acknowledging that the latest plans call for reduced shelving. The article doesn't mention that Group 4 architects acknowledged that they previously erred in gauging the shelf dimensions and overestimated how many books would fit into their design. If you compare the before and after numbers, Main will lose approximately 30,000 items, or roughly 25% of its collection.

The article states that, "Amazon is now selling more books for its Kindle than real books." That is also not correct. Rather, Amazon continues to sell more real books than books for the Kindle, and only in limited categories, such as bestsellers and hardbacks, does Amazon claim this.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Susan
a resident of Southgate
on Nov 17, 2010 at 6:31 am

Enlightened Palo Alto should embrace the digital age like no other.

To get your skivvies in a bunch over the number of volumes on hand fails to recognize, or capitalize on, the massive changes the Internet offers.

Each library builds community, we have five to prove it. Let's give the pros a chance to plan, design and build something special rather than a monolith to the past.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by need an app for that
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 17, 2010 at 8:07 am

The current e-book integration is fairly limited and painful to deal with. It just needs full integration with iPad/Nook/Kindle/... then it would really take off (calibre-ebook.com ?)


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Reside t
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 17, 2010 at 8:13 am

This is what should have been discussed before the library bond. Yes, we do want a wonderful library, but not 5 places with books. A community center with book checkin and checkout is not the same facility as a library and our plans never took this into account although many of us raised these concerns before plans were voted on.

Another bad decision by Palo Alto without enough rational thought - just emotion.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by svatoid
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Nov 17, 2010 at 9:27 am

It is clear that FOPAL is stuck in the 20th century. They see libraries as quaint places fool of books, where people come to check out books and check in books. They ignore the fact that we are in the 21st century, with e-books and computer technology.
The mistake we made was passing the 2008 library bond measure--instead of 1 modern, up to date library we will be stuck with our 5 remodeled branches, which will be 20th century in technology. Our next mistake will be to allow FOPAL to decide the future of our libraries. Just because they use the word "friend" in their title, does not mean that FOPAL really cares about the library of the future.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Wayne Martin
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Nov 17, 2010 at 9:40 am

The world has changed dramatically for the publication industry, and its customers in the last ten years--with most of the change seen in the last five years. Those of us opposing the $76M (over $150M when the bonds are retired), pointed out that there was no technology plan on the table at the time, so the Library really didn't have any clear idea what the future was likely to look like--just a few years out.

The following snippets are from articles that have appeared just in the last week:
---
Web Link

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 14
E-BOOKS WILL BECOME DEFAULT BY '15, FORRESTER STUDY PROJECTS

Many people don't realize it but the phrase "push the envelope" was created by test pilots. The "envelope" was the stratosphere and "pushing" it was a colorful phrase for testing the altitude limits of their aircraft. The phrase has been broached recently in connection with another rocket ride, the explosive growth of the e-book industry. As it approaches the $1 billion threshold – roars up to it is a better phrase – the issue of when it will crash and burn or even just slow down has been raised. But a study by Forrester Research, the respected consumer study firm, reassures us that there's plenty of fuel in this rocket and we have a long, long flight ahead of us before the envelope starts pushing back.
---

Web Link

Times Will Rank E-Book Best Sellers
By JULIE BOSMAN
Published: November 10, 2010

In an acknowledgment of the growing sales and influence of digital publishing, The New York Times said on Wednesday that it would publish e-book best-seller lists in fiction and nonfiction beginning early next year.

The lists will be compiled from weekly data from publishers, chain bookstores, independent booksellers and online retailers, among other sources.
----
Web Link

NOVEMBER 11, 2010, 5:41 A.M. ET
Companies yank cord on residential phone books

Associated Press

RICHMOND, Va. — What's black and white and read all over? Not the white pages, which is why regulators have begun granting telecommunications companies the go-ahead to stop mass-printing residential phone books, a musty fixture of Americans' kitchen counters, refrigerator tops and junk drawers.

In the past month alone, New York, Florida and Pennsylvania approved Verizon Communications Inc.'s request to quit distributing residential white pages. Residents in Virginia have until Nov. 19 to provide comments on a similar request pending with state regulators.
----

The newspapers, and industry journals are full of articles weekly, about new base technologies, and applications taking advantage of those technologies, that are changing the way information is made available to people worldwide. The idea that "books" are going to be kept in big boxes, open about 35% of the year, no longer makes any sense at all. Libraries, and virtually every information source, will be available via the Internet/WEB, so that people can have access to just about anything they want, when they want it, wherever they might happen to be. Just recently, cell phone service was established on Mr. Everest:

Web Link

Not only does this mean that people can talk to friends and family, they can download books and movies when they are "up the mountain".

The idea that people will come to a public library to get an "e-book" doesn't make any sense at all. Between Google, the Internet Archive, iTunes, Barns&Noble, and who knows how many other on-line sources, the world of books/magazines and newspapers has never been more accessible to everyone in the free world than it is now via an Internet Access Device.

> "Currently, this library is having a huge challenge in
> finding program space because there is a demand in the
> community for additional program rooms."

There is an abundance of meeting space in the combined City of Palo Alto owned buildings, as well as the PAUSD buildings. Sadly, no one at City Hall has ever considered creating an inventory of these spaces--so many possible locations are not generally known to the public.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by pat
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 17, 2010 at 10:46 am

>"If what the city wanted to do is turn the library into some sort of mini-community center, they should have been clear with proposal; but it sounds more like the bond that we voted is being manipulated to provide for other facilities."

Where were you during the bond proposal discussions? It was clear back in 2008 that libraries would provide "community space." The No on N Committee published FAQ, including this one:
---------------------------------------------------------------
Q. How much community space would be added with Measure N?

A: Plans call for the following spaces (capacity in parentheses)
* a group study room and a program room (60) in the Downtown branch.
* 4 group study rooms and a program room (100) at Main
* 4 group study rooms and a program room (60) at Mitchell Park

Per square foot building costs at Mitchell, Main and Downtown are $1,022, $748 and $422 respectively.

The city currently has community rooms at:
* Downtown: group study room (4)
* Lucie Stern: Fireside Room (30), community room (60), ballroom (200)
* Art Center: Green Room (15), meeting room (50), auditorium (180)
* Cubberly: 3 classrooms (50), lecture room (100), auditorium (250), theater and gym
* Mitchell Park: 2 classrooms (30), teen center (50), ballroom (150)

In addition, rooms are available to the public at local schools and private buildings, e.g., churches and studios. Many projects are required to provide community space in order to get a building permit.

Yet we have no idea exactly how much public space is currently available in the city—nor does anyone at City Hall! There is no one person or department in the city that tracks all community meeting space at city facilities, schools, and private developments which are required to provide public places. So without knowing if we need more, we are planning to build more!
-----------------------------------------------------------------


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Evan
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 17, 2010 at 11:03 am

With so many more people reading books in print these days, thank goodness we're spending millions expanding and renovating the libraries. Oh...wait...


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mom
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 17, 2010 at 11:21 am

I have a question...One of the important benefits of public libraries is the access they provide to books for people who can't afford to buy them. Electronic books require an investment in expensive technology that some people cannot afford. (Make no mistake....many people at these income levels DO live in Palo Alto.) Will the libraries provide Kindles and laptops to people who can't afford them so they can USE the ebooks? How will this work for families with limited incomes? People who can afford a Kindle or laptop generally can afford books. We have residents who can barely afford groceries. They DEPEND on the libraries for access to books. What is the plan for these folks?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by library neighbor
a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 17, 2010 at 12:02 pm

One thing I notice about the libraries is that there are a lot of books which seem to just sit on shelves for weeks on end without anyone checking them out and reading them.

Yes, I agree it's time to move along into the 21st century; have more space for digital everything and less space for books.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by melancholy
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 17, 2010 at 12:02 pm

Remember when you went to a store to buy a CD, flipping through thousands of jewel boxes, looking at cover art, weighing up singles against albums, those were the days...and this shift is now coming to books.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Resident 0.1
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 17, 2010 at 12:15 pm

I believe collection size is the most important factor in the library project. One reason is Mom's reason: "One of the important benefits of public libraries is the access they provide to books for people who can't afford to buy them".

My other reasons can be found in the book You are not a Gadget by Jaron Lanier. It is necessary reading for anyone interested in how the Web and the software we use every day are reshaping culture and the marketplace.

For example, will we have an economic landscape where a few over-mighty raptors, from Google to eBay to Amazon, stomp on every rival. "Digital network architectures naturally incubate monopolies." Such corporate masters of the web can rob writers of their livelihood via the great swindle of "free" content. "Free", as it wrecks the press, literature and music by demolishing the principle of paid-for craft, leaves only one content-creator as "sacrosanct". The sole online artists whose work remains sacred, protected and priced will be the advertisers.

Do not reduce the number of shelves in our libraries.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by mj
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 17, 2010 at 12:24 pm

Library books are free. Available to everyone regardless of income. I hope the library folks are budgeting for providing plenty of Kindles for loan with their e-books. Otherwise it seems to be a violation of the basic premise of libraries.

Also, did anyone address the issue of changing technologies? How much of the book budget should be spent on whiz-bang that may well be obsolete in a few years?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by mj
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 17, 2010 at 12:26 pm

The above post should read "whiz-bang" technologies.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Oldbasse
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 17, 2010 at 3:21 pm

About yesterday evening's meeting and today's comments:

o Assuming that the new library buildings will have a lifespan of 30 years, I would like to know what efforts have been made to forecast the needs for and services of a library system in year 2015, 2025 and 2040? There are many informed and thoughtful people in this area whose main professional engagements are with short, medium and long term forecasting.

o What will be the job description for a library director in the same three years, assuming that there at all will be such a position?

o Should we start retiring the word 'library' and instead begin using 'learning center' instead?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Voracious Reader
a resident of another community
on Nov 17, 2010 at 4:00 pm

Libraries that sacrifice books for "community spaces" have completely missed the point of the institution. Public libraries are repositories of knowledge and sources of mental delight unlike any other space. You can chat with your neighbors over the back fence and meet with your social group in many different places. But only in libraries can you find the wisdom of the ages available to borrow--and help in finding it from professional librarians.

It may be that electronic books will supplant paper ones someday, but I predict that it will be many years from now and several iterations of technological change before that happens. Racing to the front of the techie line can be a pyrrhic victory. Let's remember what happened to wax cylinder recordings, 8-track tapes, and Betamax videos before we give up our marvelously versatile books. They have served us well for several thousand years now, and they undoubtedly will continue to do so.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter
a resident of Palo Alto Orchards
on Nov 17, 2010 at 4:12 pm

what are you going to do when the power goes out????
Stare at a blank screen.
Fault tolerant systems are always in need.
Books don't need batteries.

History also shows when you get rid of real collections
and rely upon electronic libraries and subscriptions
at some point budget issues hit,
online subscriptions are cut and then you are left with nothing.

We are inventing new ways to "burn down the library at Alexandria" and loose knowledge.

penny wise - pound foolish


 +   Like this comment
Posted by philistines'r'us
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 17, 2010 at 6:55 pm

"What are you going to do when the power goes out???? Stare at a blank screen."

Yes, if the power goes I'll only be able to read ~3000 pages before the battery runs out. How many books are you going to be able to read in the dark?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 17, 2010 at 7:08 pm

Print books aren't going away anytime soon. I can see pros and cons of both methods.

The points is, our libraries have not been designed with any thought to anything other than the 20th century version of libraries. We are going to need some shelves somewhere, but not in 5 libraries. We don't need duplicate collections, particularly since most of us now use the catalog at home, place a hold, then pick up the books on an errand run. Very few people peruse the shelves looking for something to read.

Somehow, the library hierarchy have worked this out - about a couple of years too late.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by JoAnn
a resident of Ventura
on Nov 17, 2010 at 11:28 pm

I tried to use the ebooks accessible through the library last spring. I gave up in frustration.

Ebooks won't supercede real books until they get past the proprietary hardware and software issues of the devices. All I need to read is a real book, a place to sit and a light source. Nothing to download or charge, no worries about file formats or software compatibility.

Study rooms at the library are a good idea, though. Let the kids hold their discussions elsewhere and leave those of us in the main reading room, who are trying to concentrate, in peace. Reading is a quiet, private activity and the 21st century doesn't know what to make of that.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Alexander
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Nov 18, 2010 at 7:09 am

I don't know why Ned Himmel would use Amazon as an example for the increased use of ebooks. Bezos will be the last one to allow electronic lending of ebooks for his money making Kindle. They want you to buy the device and the content from Amazon. Libraries and their vendors are shut out of the Kindle market no matter how many "patrons" buy a Kindle--they can't electronically borrow books from anywhere.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Love to Read
a resident of Southgate
on Nov 18, 2010 at 8:45 am

I haven't been to a library in Palo Alto since I moved to town. Many times the books I've wanted aren't in and I've had to go to other local cities to find the books. Realistically, now between my computer, phone and iPad, I get most of my books electronically.

I love to read but that no longer means I read paper books. I think we're at the tipping point as those of us grey heads die off, fewer and fewer people will go to libraries for reading paper books. Meeting rooms and electronic devices will become the main uses of what were formerly called libraries. It would have been better to use the money to buy electronic reading devices that people could use in the library.

I didn't vote for the library measures because I felt that it was a waste of money. Keep the children's library and one other library. But to spend money on buildings housing paper books in an age when electronic reading devices are fast becoming the norm, even with grey hairs like me, is wasteful and short sighted. It's also ridiculous considering we live in the heart of Silicon Valley.

Get your heads out of those 'dead trees' and out of the sand. There is a whole world out there and books will be there but just not in paper form.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by philistines'r'us
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 18, 2010 at 9:36 am

One other thing to note. *All* of the books that are out of copyright are being made available free on the electronic devices. You can download thousands of classics for nothing. With no library membership or leaving your home.
There is also the Gutenberg project, which is further making these books available directly and have made efforts to have them hosted on the Apple Store, Kindle and others. Web Link
And for those "grey heads" you can adjust the font size so you don't have to limit yourself to the large print books available in the library.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Wayne Martin
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Nov 18, 2010 at 3:04 pm

The City has never constructed a realistic financial plan for operating the current library system for, say, a 30-year timeline (coincident with the pay down of any bonds spent to rehab the current system).

The following is a first order estimate (meaning simple) for a roughly 30-year timeline for operations, construction/finance and maintenance:

Web Link

The result of this estimate is that the current system will cost the taxpayers about $450M for the next 30 years, unless some significant changes are made in the service delivery model.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jack
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 18, 2010 at 5:53 pm

Have the city's fiber optic loop just beam the books to my iPAD, and give to library bond money to public safety. The police need a super-max police building. The fire department needs fire stations that their new fire engines will fit in.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Library Commissioner
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 21, 2010 at 4:54 am

Wayne Martin: "The world has changed dramatically for the publication industry, and its customers in the last ten years--with most of the change seen in the last five years. Those of us opposing the $76M (over $150M when the bonds are retired), pointed out that there was no technology plan on the table at the time, so the Library really didn't have any clear idea what the future was likely to look like--just a few years out."

In fact, there was a technology plan framework, with the idea that a fixed plan would not allow for adaptation to rapid change.


Jack: "Have the city's fiber optic loop just beam the books to my iPAD, and give to library bond money to public safety. The police need a super-max police building. The fire department needs fire stations that their new fire engines will fit in."

Fiber optic loops don't "beam" anything. We should pass a bond for a new police building and fire stations, or look to merge those services with adjoining municipalities.




 +   Like this comment
Posted by pat
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 21, 2010 at 10:34 am

>"… there was a technology plan framework,…"

A "framework" is not a plan.

I received the following email from Diane Jennings, then Library Director, on 10/13/08, just a month before the vote on the library bond:

"The status of library technology planning is: We have contracted with a consultant to begin preparation later this month of a full technology plan for the library system. We have, though, completed a portion of it - a feasibility study of RFID and automated materials handling. The facilities plans include information on the number of additional PCs and laptops planned for the new Mitchell Park Library and for spaces accommodating the use of technology."

That's hardly sufficient for planning a 21st century library at a cost of $76 million (plus roughly another $76 million for debt services).

On the other hand, there was quite a bit of detail about "spaces." Web Link

"Features of the proposed design for the new Mitchell Park library & community center:

"Multi-purpose event room, with kitchen, suitable for rental Varied and flexible library spaces - large children's room, separate teen room, computer training room, 100 person program room, and quiet reading areas Shelving for collection expansion, including books in international languages Flexible classrooms, game room, and half court basketball area in community center Environmentally friendly facility, built to LEED silver, or higher, standard Improved site plan with single entrance directly across from Mayview Avenue and safe corridors for children coming from the park and nearby schools Small café serving snacks and beverages for users of facility and the park Sufficient ground level parking for cars and bicycles No impact on tennis courts or dedicated park land."


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Wayne Martin
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Nov 21, 2010 at 11:18 am

> In fact, there was a technology plan framework, with the idea
> that a fixed plan would not allow for adaptation to rapid change

And what does this mean? Is this more "government-speak" for claiming that "not a plan" is a "plan"?

There were many people at the time trying to trivialize the emergence of e-books. Letters from various local "luminaries" trashed the suggestion that digital technology was about to change things, and the spending hundreds of millions of dollars ($450M-$500M) was going to be massively wasteful. There was no effort on the part of anyone supporting Measure N (and the so-called Library "plan") who should any understanding of the disruption that was about to unfold in the publishing arena. All we heard about was how the library was going to return 23X the cost to the community (so .. anybody booked that revenue on the City's balance sheet yet?)

Every day we are seeing rapid changes that should have been anticipated by people claiming to be out "political betters"--particularly with Apple being so close to Palo Alto:

iPad 'newspaper' created by Steve Jobs and Rupert Murdoch:
Web Link

Murdoch believes the iPad is going to be a "game changer" and he has seen projections that there will be 40 million iPads in circulation by the end of 2011. A source said: "He envisions a world in which every family has a iPad in the home and it becomes the device from which they get their news and information. If only 5% of those 40 million subscribe to the Daily, that's already two million customers."
----

So .. how many iPad (or iPad-style devices) will be in Palo Alto within a year or two? Does anyone associated with the library have a guess, and how will this change the use profile for local libraries in the coming decade?

For me, it's been a total game changer. I use a Sony e-book, which has room for many 12,000+ e-books. I've downloaded about 1,300 at the moment, and have recently purchased a netbook to provide better reading support for .pdf files than I can get on the 3+year old Sony.

My use of e-books has caused me to drop support for RDID/AMS library automation --

RFID In the Library:
Web Link

I no longer support the need for this equipment, because I believe that within a decade the ciruclation of the library will decrease to the point that this level of automation will not be necessary.

One of the sorts of things I would have expected a library to consider is the shift in storage technology that we have seen in the past decade. The following video talks to that point:

Web Link

All of the 1,300 ebooks and papers I have on my Sony fit on a single SD 2Gb chip, which routinely costs about $8.00 at local stores. The video shows how much physical storage about 1,000 paper books takes.

The emergence of Google/Amazon/Internet Archive/Sony/Barnes&Noble certainly have put a vast store of material at people's finger tips. So how does the Palo Alto library project the impact of the availability of these materials on future circulation? Or the need to actually have physical books on hand?

Yes .. the world is changing rapidly .. so rapidly that it will most likely be seen as a mistake to have continued down this path of a 5-branch library system, with no real understanding of how digital technology is changing the game on a daily basis.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Deep Throat
a resident of another community
on Nov 21, 2010 at 1:39 pm

If young people prefer electronic books instead of printed books, just remove all the printed books from the Children's Library and replace them with as many Internet stations as possible.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by book lover with common sense
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 21, 2010 at 2:11 pm

What I find sad and disappointing is that the residents who will be primarily responsible for paying back this bond had almost no say in what it would be used for "no one 18 was surveyed in determining what modern libraries should look like. In the 2008 Palo Alto poll only 9% of 600 respondents were under 30, 53% were over 50 and 13% were 75 or older!" Who chose the people to participate in the poll?

Deep throat - No on is suggesting that books will disappear anytime soon - especially not kids books. They are saying that we should pay attention to how technology will affect our libraries in the future. A novel concept since we have libraries that live in the past.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 5, 2011 at 9:46 am

Just looked at my most recent property tax bill. The library bond is hidden well and I can't see exactly how much I am paying!


Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Email:


Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

Company partners with Coupa Cafe to launch mobile payment app
By Elena Kadvany | 5 comments | 1,613 views

All Parking Permits Should Have a Fee
By Steve Levy | 21 comments | 1,293 views

Ten Steps to Get Started with Financial Aid
By John Raftrey and Lori McCormick | 1 comment | 1,227 views

For the Love of Pie
By Laura Stec | 5 comments | 1,224 views

Repeating and “You” Sentences
By Chandrama Anderson | 3 comments | 785 views