From the cover of Library Journal
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On June 5, the San Diego County Library system earned the Gale Library Journal “2012 Library of the Year Award.” The group (LIbrary Journal and Gale, which produces reference sources for libraries) affirmed the library’s outstanding “ingenuity, creativity and perseverance” with record-breaking success in the face of budgetary cuts.

Encinitas branch manager Amy Geddes is confident that her library (and the other 32 branches in the county library system) is reclaiming power of written and spoken discourse.

“We respond to what our members want,” she says, saying she snaps up “any good deals” on classes, workshops, and materials. “I follow the marketplace model. I ask, ‘What do the people want now?’ It may be ‘Silver Age Yoga,’ or ‘Doggie Tales,’ a seminar on reading to dogs —anything is fair game, really, if it adds value to the community.”

Geddes also points out that director José A. Aponte launched “floating” collections using new systems and "regional consortia" to stimulate a stagnant circulation. County libraries reported a threefold increase in circulation since 2008, from 4.1 million to 12.1 million, despite severe budget cuts (30% in the past three years). Last year, county libraries offered 20,000 programs, including a 20 percent increase in adult programs and realized a 40 percent increase in attendance.

Aponte and his team also redrafted library spaces to offer the public more face-to-face contact with librarians. The Encinitas Library alone reported raising its membership by over 10,000 cardholders since 2008, which is now more than 75 percent of the total population of Encinitas; in 2011, the branch served 435,000 customers, lending 630,000 materials.

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Javajoe25 June 9, 2012 @ 12:20 p.m.

The San Diego Library deserves that award and a lot more. In spite of budget cuts, the library has managed to not only maintain it's place as a valuable community asset, but actually thrive and increase its offerings. I wish other organizations and companies utilized the internet as well as the library does.

Using an internet connection, in the comfort of my home, I can search the entire library system, reserve a book, cd, videocassette, or dvd, and request it be delivered to a library branch convenient to me. Then, the library will send me an email to let me know when item is ready for me to pick up. I can then go on-line and get an extension if I need more time or drop the item off at any branch I happen to be near, again, at my convenience.

And anyone who says the e-book is going to make all the paper books unnecessary, has obviously not developed the habit and appreciation of holding a good book in their hands, licking the tip of their finger as they turn to the next page, and eventually clapping the book shut after reading a great ending. It's just not the same with a glass screen.

With a good book, you don't have to worry about batteries, or internet connections, or glare, or scratches, or upgrades, downloads, or formats. Every paper book has its unique cover, and appearance, and heft. With an e-reader, every book you get will be in that same device, each appearing exactly like the last, whether you are sitting in a coffee house sipping your favorite sip, or laid back in bed with the thing on your chest. But with a paper book, the page reflects that certain light, whether it's sunlight or a soft bed light; it changes with the circumstances. Not an e-reader--it's monotone. A paper book, maybe because of its familiarity, gives you surround sound. You move more easily into the fictive dream.

So, quadruple kudos to the San Diego Public Library for doing a fantastic job and doing it better than anyone else!


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