El Cerrito hears ideas for new library at a workshop

“At a workshop held Thursday to learn what the community wants in a new facility, about 30 residents heard from Kathryn Page, a consultant hired to update a 7-year-old library needs assessment, before offering their own comments and suggestions.”

Continue reading “El Cerrito hears ideas for new library,” by Rick Radin, Contra Costa Times, October 25, 2013

El Cerrito Library’s Town Hall Notes

El Cerrito Library’s Town Hall on September 11 had a great turnout with 60 residents participating! The thoughts the participants shared with the city and Contra Costa County Library will be part of the CCCL’s new strategic plan for library services in the next three years. Thanks to everyone who showed up!

See complete notes from the Town Hall Meeting (PDF). In summary, three questions were asked and the top responses are listed below (the complete notes contain all responses provided by the participants). Note: there were six group discussions and each top response represented a common feedback from each group.

Exercise #1: Your library wants to be responsive to issues and concerns in our community. What do you think is the biggest community priority that the library should take an active role in addressing/supporting?

Top Responses:

  • Community engagement, e.g., schools, news, shared interest
  • Literacy and education
  • Promotion of personal development for all community members with emphasis on literacy and civic engagement
  • Fostering all types of literacy and learning, at all levels, usable by all
  • Larger library that supports a diverse community through its space and information resources
  • Highly accessible center for community interaction

Exercise #2: What one thing could the library do better?

Top Responses:

  • More hours/days/staff
  • More open hours
  • More staff support to encourage 21st century technology, longer hours, and continuity of service
  • Library could increase its hours, technology, and resources with space
  • The library should be a beautiful, exciting, accessible community center
  • Open hours

Exercise #3: What is the single most important contribution the library makes to our community today?

Top Responses:

  • A meeting place and access to books, DVDs, CDs and information in physical library and online FREE TO USER.
  • Free access to all types of information
  • Access to the wider world in a safe, comfortable space
  • Free access to information/ a variety of materials with specialized content
  • Free access to useful information through books and computers
  • Freedom of access to materials and programs for all ages

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ARTICLE: The Library’s Future Is Not an Open Book

Talk about imposing: the ceremonial stone stair leading to bronze gates and carved doors; the frieze of inspiring names and the vaulted hall that seems the very definition of hallowed. And the books, bound portals opening to anywhere imaginable, available to all comers.

In cities across the nation, the central public library came into being when the country was young and striving to impress. Charles F. McKim’s Italianate palazzo-style library opened on Boston’s Copley Plaza in 1895; in 1921, Renaissance austerity suited Detroit’s Main Library designed by Cass Gilbert, while architect Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue chose Egyptian Deco for Los Angeles’s downtown Central Library of 1926. Architecturally grand, the central library was both beacon and monumental tribute to learning and civic pride; a people’s palace with knowledge freely available to all. But, really, when was the last time you spent any time there?

For the first time since Henri Labrouste (1801-1875), currently the subject of an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, formulated the conception of the new, democratic library, the central library is fighting for survival. The relevance of these gloriously inflated book boxes is being questioned in an age that looks to the Internet for its intellectual resources.

Branch libraries have long served as community hubs offering book clubs and after-school story times. But central libraries, dedicated to the care and maintenance of weighty collections within ornately crafted and lofty spaces, are having to recast themselves. Thanks to the shift of emphasis to online resources over hard copies, the prevalence of mobile technologies and changing approaches to studying and learning, libraries have a different social purpose. “I used to be greeted by a sea of faces with questions like how to spell ‘Albuquerque,'” said Amy E. Ryan, a career librarian since the 1970s and now president of the Boston Public Library. “That’s all over. It’s now about providing an experience.”

Continue reading “The Library’s Future is Not an Open Book,” by Julie V. Iovine, Wall Street Journal, May 13, 2013