Photo: By brewbooks on Flickr
At a time when public funding is all but nonexistent, libraries are pulling out all the stops to draw business.Displays, coffee kiosks and even gift shops have taken over, reports Dean Narciso in the Columbus Dispatch, as libraries strive for new ways to stay relevant amid the rise of e-reading devices like the Kindle.
This means “replenishing displays” with a rotating cast of bestsellers and “edgy” thrillers and enticing children with “power walls” lined up with graphic novels, crafts and collections on current events.
“We know that, as bookstore experts have known for years, the face-out displays matter,” said Pat Losinski, director of the library system in Columbus, Ohio. “It casts at least a preliminary vision in the reader’s mind” that draws him or her to the book.
The bookstore strategy seems to be working: Several managers Narciso spoke to noted that patrons have been more receptive to the changes, but whether the ploy will convince consumers to spend more time at the library versus money on a cup of Joe or an ebook remains to be seen.
Amazon just reported its best Kindle sales “EVAR” during Black Friday, according to Media Bistro’s eBookNewser blog, and with major publishers like Penguin pulling their ebooks off library shelves as state and municipal budgets shrink, libraries are facing a long and winding road.
As recently as last April, Newport, Calif. residents considered doing away with library books altogether at its underused Balboa branch.
What do you think: Is the library still relevant in the digital age?