Libraries, Social Media, and Networking
State Librarian's Report
It is with very mixed emotions that I am writing this, my last column as State Librarian of Ohio. It has been an honor and a pleasure to serve in this position. A great deal has happened since I came in July 2004 and technology often was the driving force. A shining example is the KnowItNow Service which was introduced in September 2004, with strong support from the public library community, Cleveland Public Library, Cuyahoga County Public Library, Northern Ohio Library Association (NOLA), and the State Library. This service has grown in use and functionality since its inception. Moving to Open Source Software, it became accessible to the blind community in September 2008. About the same time, the academic library community began participating as operators and our 24/7 virtual reference service became even more robust in its support by the library community.
The Ohio eBook Project was initiated in 2005. As of February 2010, almost 28,000 unique library patrons have enjoyed the Ohio eBook Project holdings. The holdings include almost 11,000 copies of more than 7,000 individual titles of eAudiobooks, eBooks, eVideo, and eMusic. In addition, this collection and the SEO eBook collection are both accessible to library users in both consortia.
These are just two of countless projects which are being implemented in Ohio libraries. In this issue of The News, you will read about how libraries across the state are using technology to improve services, extend outreach, and enhance communication.
While we have been making great strides in collaborative efforts and improving library services, we have also seen the economy decline. Yet library support and usage has grown faster and stronger than the decline. People of all ages are affirming that their libraries – academic, public and school – are a valued commodity and they are letting public officials know this. You will all recall how Ohio library users utilized the Internet and other social networking tools to rally in support of their libraries when budget cuts were announced in June. While the times are hard and the dark clouds are everywhere, this support is our silver lining.
So how does one write a “farewell” column to a group of such talented and dedicated library folk? I wish that I had profound advice or predictions to pass along but that is not the case. But I do believe that at this time when we are forced to close branches, place staff on furlough or remove them from employment, and cut our collection budgets, it is important to remember that the work that each library worker does is important. There is probably nothing more important to democracy than the open and equal access that libraries provide. Nothing.
If you have not seen the video created by ALA to promote Library Advocacy Day, please go to www.ala.org/ala/aboutala/offices/wo/index.cfm and watch it. The young lady at the end of this video puts it best: what you provide to your communities is not a luxury but an essential. My visits to libraries in Ohio have confirmed this to me. I appreciate the warmth and hospitality that you afforded me. I will always look back at this time fondly. Thank you.
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