Monday, July 20, 2009

Any Press is Good Press?

The New City Library was in The Journal News today, July 20, 2009 in the “Letters to the Editor section. The customer was complaining that the Library would not accept a replacement copy of a fiction book published in 2005 that she admitted losing. For an on-line copy of the letter you can go to:

At issue is that the lost book is not something that the library would want to replace. The book has lived a good life and was popular at a time, but it is not something that we would purchase today. The library collection is not stagnate and is constantly changing in adding and removing materials to provide the best and latest materials to its customers. The library in its fiduciary responsibility to tax payers needs the replacement fund to purchase current materials that are in demand over an older book that is no longer a bestseller.

The largest misconception of the letter is that the library pays retail price for materials. We annually negotiate a substantial discounts with our material providers, and yes we purchase books online sometimes at ridiculously low prices. However, unlike retail book stores where the item is unboxed and put on the shelf, libraries spend significant time and money in cataloging the book, creating the unique book barcode number, wrapping the jacket in its protective sleeve and applying stickers. These are all value added costs in making the book ready for the customer in an organized fashion. When a book is lost there is also time and money in removing entries from the catalog.

The existing policy takes into consideration the above elements. Our policies are constantly under review and it is agreed that the policy may need to be adjusted, but I believe the concepts are sound in collecting funds for lost materials and the time and money it takes to process them.

The other item of interest is that on the same day, I received and email from a different customer, that said,

“Thank you, thank you so very much for looking into this! You have relieved me from a great worry while I am away, and I greatly appreciate your efforts and flexibility!!!…There is certainly no reason for you to apologize for any inconvenience, as it is I who am so sorry that I caused an inconvenience by forgetting that there were materials borrowed on both cards and only checking my own e-mail alerts. Thank you again for your time and understanding. Have a wonderful rest of the week …Thank you again and again!!!!!!”

Unfortunately, this is an email that is not likely to appear on the editorial page. The New City Library prides itself on providing quality customer service and I believe it is achieved 99% of the time. We will seek improvements in communicating with the other 1%; and by the way…try not to lose your books.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Library of the Future

The New City Library is constantly evolving to provide the best services and the best customer service possible for all ages, cultures, and perspectives.

Our world is changing at an ever increasing rate and it is up to the library to change with it. An article I read a few years back talked about digital natives and digital immigrants. I, like most of our readers am a digital immigrant. We had to learn most everything from books. When growing up having three channels on a 12” black and white TV was a luxury. Computers were huge contraptions that only big universities and big businesses could afford. My children on the other hand are digital natives. They had their computerized “Speak and Spell” before kinder garden. They learned from Sesame Street in 30 second Snippets on at least a 19” color TV (today they think 56” is too small). They never consider reading the instruction manual to any new phone or gadget. Technology seems to come natural to them.

How does the Library succeed in satisfying the needs of both groups?

Everyone loves books from our youngest to our oldest customers. Our Children’s and Teen area are running out of space with the rich collection we have. We have a good collection of Large Print titles that we hope to grow into a great collection.

The evolution of books in general and audio books in particular is fascinating. First there were audio books on tape. Customers loved them. These evolved into books on CD. Now no new cars come with tape players. What do we do with our collection? Do we continue to purchase titles on a technology that has no future? The New City Library was a head of the times in purchasing what may become an interim technology of audio books prerecorded on MP3 Players. These go by the brand name of “Playaway”. If you haven’t tried on yet, please do. The future seems to be moving to downloadable audio books where customers can download a book to their own MP3 player or iPod through the Library Website. The New City Library offers this service through our regional library, but the collection needs to be enhanced.

In the late 90s Libraries embraced eBooks which could be checked out to your computer or handheld device for reading. The theory was that if we build it and they will come. They (you our customers) didn’t come and the potential was not fully realized. Interesting the items of the highest circulation were cliftnotes, computer books and titles that appealed to teens.

Today libraries are faced with two competing forms of eBook technology; the Amazon “Kindle” and the Sony “Reader Digital Book” Should libraries purchase readers and check them out to customers? Should libraries provide downloadable books to customers for circulation? Unless I were really rich or traveling constantly on airplanes the investment of 2 to 3 hundred dollars just for the reader doesn’t make sense, but this technology will continue to evolve and become more affordable. New color readers, no bigger than, and as flexible as, a paper tablet will soon be available. You can be sure this library will be watching developments.

What is true of books is true of all the formats of materials provided by the library. The change is afoot with films and think how sound recordings have progressed from wax recordings, to 78s to LPs to eight tracks to cassettes and today’s audio CDs. Downloadable music is now quickly becoming the dominate format. The library of today and tomorrow needs to always be looking ahead and providing what is next.

Last week when the New City Library was performing some spring house cleaning we dispensed with our Book Review Digest. It brought back memories of our High School librarian teaching us the complex indexing scheme of monthly indexes, annual indexes and cumulative indexes. The identical material is now available online the only difference is when was the last time teens need to be taught how to do an online search.

Above our commitment to customer service, the New City Library is also committed to evolving with the publishing and media production world. You can share your thoughts on this matter by commenting on this blog

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Buidling Repairs...You be the Judge

One of the intentions of this blog is to get customer feedback on what is happening at the library. Recently we have gone through a process to prioritize our building maintenance and repair issues. Here is how we ranked our projects.

Facility Item Score

Front Steps 4.86
Parking Lot lights 4.57
Restructure A/V Department 4.48
Upgrade lighting in Meeting Room 4.47
Update Meeting room A/V and Data 4.40
Public Furniture replacement 4.28
Repair surface and lighting of portico 4.26
New Carpeting throughout 4.21
Resurface/stripe Parking Lot 4.19
Roof Repair 4.19
Redesign Reference Desk and Public PCs 4.16
Update Conference room A/V 4.12
Roof Replacement 4.09
Remodel Meeting room walls 3.69
Create Offices in Circ and PR 3.09
Re-point exterior brick 3.09
Furniture in the Staff lounge 3.07
Flooring in the Staff lounge 2.97
Refinish Woodwork 2.76
Restore Children's Room Garden 2.50

With limited funds available, how would you rank projects that the library should be taking on to keep our building maintained and attractive? Are there other items you have noticed that need repaired?

Friday, March 27, 2009

New City Library Picnic Table

Posted by Picasa

Easy Answer to a Customer Suggestion.

A New City Library Customer recently wrote, “You should have a picnic table and chairs outside so people can read outside in the summer.”

The New City Library does indeed already have a picnic table under a pergola. Unfortunately it is at the back of the library near the employee entrance, but it is there for everyone to use. As the warmer weather approaches, I would encourage any and all our visitor to check out the area and make use of it. If you live or work near the library it is an ideal place to eat while enjoying a good book.

Our public bench in front of the library has seen better days and we would hope to have that updated at some point in the near future. Please enjoy our library and enjoy the outdoors at the same time.

Please let us know other improvements we can make to our facilities. Your ideas are always appreciated.