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Yesterday morning a senior citizen came into the library clutching a brand new Kindle close to her chest.

"I just bought this, and I have an e-book I want to buy," she said.

After asking a few questions, I found out that:

She does not have a home computer.

She does not know how to use a computer.

She does not, then, have an e-mail account.

And she has not registered her Kindle and has no account with Amazon.

Whew.

So, together, we got her an e-mail at Google. We registered her Kindle with Amazon. We set up her Amazon account, and we downloaded the e-book she wanted to buy, then pulled it up on her Kindle screen so she could get started.

The process took a little less than an hour.

I worry, though, that she didn't really understand the whole Amazon experience. I bet I see her again before the end of the week.

But, that's OK. She was happy. And that's the whole point.

Sounds good ... if you say it fast

The Applied Engineering and Technology library at the University of Texas at San Antonio made headlines a few years back by going bookless.

Everything is digital, and patrons have access to something like 50,000 e-journals and 470 databases.

Pretty darn impressive.

Infodocket.com reported last week that the library has served more than 160,000 students and faculty since going bookless in March 2010.

Infodocket makes it sound like this is a major feat.

But, if you have to access materials relevant to your field of study and you cannot do so, what real alternative do you have? You may not like using all digital materials, but what else can you do?

So, count me out as a cheerleader.

Oh, and I wonder about a statistic quoted by Infodocket: It said the library welcomes an average of 1,900 visitors per week when classes are in session.

Sounds pretty good until you realize that the Wimberley Village Library averages more than 2,200 visitors per week.

Not that interested

A new survey report by Library Journal gives us some important perspective on what appears to be a national obsession.

If you look at the mainstream media, you are prone to conclude that American adults are overwhelmingly enthralled by politics and current events.

The LJ survey found that when it comes to what adults read, it's almost the polar opposite.

The highest rate of circulation for adult nonfiction nationwide is in the cooking category, according to the survey. That isn’t much of a surprise, given the number of celebrity chef recipe books that are published each year. The category with the next highest circulation rate was medical and health books, again not much of a surprise given this nation’s obsession with all things related to our bodies and minds.

The surprise was in how low the circulation rate is for current-events and political books. That was at a stunningly low rate of 16 percent. Compare that to the rate for cooking books – 81 percent.

In the adult fiction category, the top rate was for mystery and suspense novels, followed by general fiction and then romance. At the bottom: westerns.

I don’t have the numbers for the Wimberley Village Library, but it appears to me that we follow the national trend when it comes to adult fiction circulation. I can’t say about adult nonfiction.

When is it theft?

What kind of jerk would walk off with almost $10,000 worth of books and think that's perfectly OK?

That's what's happened at the Austin Public Library, according to a page-one story published on Monday.

The article by Tony Plohetski and Andy Pierrotti says that this single patron checked out the $125 "Encyclopedia of Libertarianism" back in 2009, and never returned it. Nor has he returned about $10,000 worth of other checked-out books.

Privacy laws prohibit the lilbrary from revealing the name of this scofflaw. Drat. We'd all like to know.

At what point does this kind of abuse constitute theft and require arrest and conviction and prison time?

I guess never. And that's too bad.

Here at the Wimberley library, we have an automated, computerized system that remembers who checked out what when and will not allow someone with an outstanding fine to check anything out without paying up.

I think that's reasonable.

After all, we want materials to be on the shelves as much as possible so others can check them out.

Giving books away

We're giving books away.

Right inside the front door of the library, we are placing books that we think cannot be sold by the Friends at their annual sale in the fall.

It's kind of amazing what people are willing to cart off to home or office.

For example, we put an entire set of old encyclopedias on the give-away table, and they were snapped up.

Then, the other day we put out a Chilton's auto repair manual from the late '90s. It's a foot-thick volume full of technical drawings and details. I figured we'd never get rid of it.

But, we did. It was displayed only about three days. Then it was gone.

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