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Director's Column

PLSJC Director Alan Hall writes a weekly column discussing library and community news, history, and other interesting subjects.

Librarians count things

By Alan Hall, Director, PLSJ
Publish Date - Sunday, March 16, 2008

Librarians count things.  We count books that are checked out, books that are checked in, and books that are overdue.


We look at reports of which DVDs are requested, which book on CD has the most holds, and what e-books are on the hold list and how many people are waiting.


Which of our electronic databases are the most used, and what time of the day is most popular?


Counting things in a library has become more complex in the past decade.


Computers allow us to count more things in ways that our counterparts of the 1950s could have only dreamed about.


An inventory of our library's collections, done in 1951, took seven years to complete.


Today, the computer system is doing a never-ending inventory of the library's collections with quarterly reports for librarians to address.


Compiling statistics for 2007 has been an interesting task.


First, the checkout of physical materials from our library collection continues to grow in the age of the Internet.


Over 820,000 items were circulated from our collections in seven buildings and the bookmobile.


Our own collections have 219,152 items, with 34,832 of those being some type of Audio-Visual from videos and DVDs, to books on CD and cassette tape.


As a user of the library system, that is only a tiny portion of what's available to you.


We are part of a network of 73 libraries in Ohio that own 5.8 million items contained in a common database.


Those items can be requested online, and will be sent for pick-up at whatever library location you desire.


The Library Catalog, or database, is used more from home computers than from computers in our library buildings.


Only 30 percent of its use is from within our library walls.


People using the e-book collection never enter the library, unless they need a library card to get started.


People using the array of databases offered on our web page can do so from home.


And they did, over 100,000 uses were made of our databases in 2007, with genealogy and journal research being the most popular.


The Homework Helper and 24 X 7-information finder allows you to access a librarian at any time.


I remain amazed at how much information retrieval and storage has changed in a relatively short time period.


As a young librarian in 1978, working at a Reference Desk, I would clip newspaper articles and glue them to different colors of paper for the file.


The color of the paper indicated the date of the information, and made it easy to clean the files of outdated information.


Libraries still have paper, but we have so many forms of electronic information.


And libraries remain as the needed organizer and provider of that information to the public.