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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.

Long Range Planning in the Library

By Alan Hall, Director, PLSJ
Publish Date - Sunday, January 12, 2014


Looking and planning for 2014 is much harder than library planning when I began in the profession.


Back in the 1970s, the State Library of Ohio sponsored “Long Range Planning” workshops, and I remember one held in Zanesville.  The room was full of library administrators being trained to gather input and develop a five-year plan for your library.


It was all very simple and concise, and once the plan was developed and approved the budget was formed to enact that plan and all was well.


As time passed, the plan was reviewed as to whether the planning had been successful, and the next five-year plan was developed building on the previous and looking forward to new needs and efforts.


At some point in the 1990s, the seams began to come unstitched from such planning, and the product became a three-year plan as the world of information and technology seemed to be moving faster than ever.


One plan was barely in place before everything seemed to change, and the orderly completion of one plan was impossible before another one was in operation.


Add to the speed of technological advancement the loss of consistent library funding over the past 15 years, and well, it seems that we barely can plan for the next 8 weeks of operations.


Our library collection in 2014 will consist of books, and things on a disc, either DVD or CD.  Gone are long-playing records, cassette tapes, and videocassettes except for those remaining in the collection that remains operable.


There are also those things that are part of our collection, but really aren’t as you can’t touch them, such as eBooks, online databases, and things that have been scanned.


Interesting that videocassettes still circulate, I guess people still have video players.  Slowly they are disappearing as the tapes break and the collection will go away with no maintenance.


eBooks are growing in number, and more people take advantage of the library’s collection every day as more people get devices that use eBooks.


eBooks bring a variety of issues from contractual issues of the number of uses to the fact that publishers would rather not sell them to libraries at all.


The next change involves periodicals, anything published as a magazine or journal.  Many are going out of business as a format, and those remaining will likely be in an electronic format as well as paper for browsing.


Gone is the Readers Guide to Periodical Literature, replaced by online searching of periodical databases.  A new company contracts with libraries for people to download eMagazines.


And libraries provide public computers and wireless connections for your own laptop or computer device in all of our buildings.


I thought that public computers in libraries would go away as people got their own, but that was another of my incorrect predictions for libraries.


Gee, libraries keep expanding our bandwidth for demand as people rush in to make their connection to the Internet.


Children still love books, but many of those books are on hand-held devices and libraries are changing to accommodate that.  Even traditional Story Hours are shifting to the use of technology.


And the paper Card Catalog has now been gone from our library 20 years in 2014.  I archived several card sets in a binder for future generations, and have never looked at it once in that time.


The new electronic Card Catalog links into homes and offices and sees over 7 million items in 90 libraries around Ohio, all available to be shipped to your local library.


And from an administrator’s viewpoint, all of this costs money just like the old days of only books and some 16mm films.


What would Andrew Carnegie say about all of this?


It follows his long range plan of providing information to the masses for self-education, just with new tools.