Message from City Librarian: Letter to the Editor: We are Relevant

The Denver Post recently wrote an article about how libraries need to reinvent themselves in the digital age titled: "Digital update for the public library" (12/7/11).

The article states “Libraries will look very different in the digital age, and they must," and also questions how DPL will remain relevant. We have a lot of data and many success stories to demonstrate our relevance. In the coming months as we engage the community to talk about our future and sustainable funding, these stories will be told.

In the meantime, here is the letter to the editor I submitted in response to the article (note, I was limited to about 150 words).

"Denver Public Library has been evolving to meet the needs of the community since its inception in 1889. Simply stated, our mission is to connect people with information, ideas and experiences to provide enjoyment, enrich lives, and strengthen our community.

In this digital age, the role of Denver Public Library in the community has changed. We have been on the forefront of libraries offering eBooks, but that’s not the only way our service has shifted. With the rise in unemployment, we have increased our resources for job seekers – from technology classes, to more public computers. Our Fresh City Life cultural programming provides free ways to engage the community in creative lifelong learning opportunities.

2012 will prove to be a pivotal year for us with the possibility of a ballot initiative addressing library funding. Community engagement will be crucial and we are planning to have several opportunities for public input throughout the year to discuss the future of DPL."

Comments

I use the public library all the time. I order books and can get them even from outside the City if necessary. I do a lot of research for memoirs and find having a library close to me is a must. I'm so fortunate to be able to still get books, not ebooks, to read even though they seem to be dwindling in number. One of the strengths of our country is the public library. When books cost upwards of 24.95 dollars, people who are retired cannot and do not want to purchase books that either have to be resold or donated to someone for hardly anything at all. I often find out if I really want to purchase a book buy finding it at the library and if I do indeed want it, I buy it at Amazon or ebay at a much lower cost than a regular book store. I've been reading book books since I was five years old and am so sad to see people saying that the library is no longer relevant in a digital age. Some of the digital books written today are the worst samples of writing possible. Being tied to a device or computer in order to read is ridiculous for someone like me who is older. Hard copy I can sit down anywhere and read without purchasing an expensive electronic device I don't want or need is, to me, crazy and limits my freedom to access a library, one of my freedoms. M Lyn
The DLP is fantastic! I go to the library at least once a week and it's brimming with activity. It's full of young people, the computing areas in high demand, and the e-services--of many kinds--are up-to-date and well implemented. I spend more time at the library than most, but I couldn't begin to use all of the services and programs that DLP offers since the offering is so robust. Thank you to all that make DLP the wonderful library that it is! I have lived on both coasts, in Silicon Valley, and now Denver and I believe DLP to be the finest library I've ever visited. It must be a huge task to stay relevant, but DLP does so elegantly and with great finesse. Anyone who says otherwise, frankly hasn't visited the downtown library or one of the friendly and resource-filled neighborhood branches.
Ma'am: You are only partial correct because DPL is not open enough hours to serve the needs of its own residents much less the broader needs of the while state because you are the main library with the most and the widest variety of books for most peoples needs. We live in unincorporated Arapahoe county and we got a new library in our area in February of 2009. Before that; most of the residents went to Denver libraries in U-hills, VA Village, Hampden and later on Schessman because our area called 4 square mile, holly hills near U hills and Glendale had a crummy library in Glendale for the Arapahoe library system. There are only about 28000 of us as of the last census. Denver has a population of 600000 in the last census. Aurora has a population of 325000 as of the last census. Arapahoe only has a population of 208000 spread from Sheridan to the west and Byers and Deer Trail to the east. Both DPL and APL have almost 20 % of the population of the entire state and because both of you; you since 2003 according to the information you sent us and APL since 2010 due to their voters have severely reduced the hours you are open and failing to serve the needs of so many of your own residents. You also dont seem to have enough spine with your elected officials to get a library district formed. Not even sure you will be able to do it in 2012 so what do you think your residents are doing? They are flooding along with Aurora our little 14000 square feet of library space on a daily basis. Our little library that our residents planned and waited 28 years for and we cant even use it because we are pushed aside to take care of Denver, Aurora and everyone else but 28000 residents. Why are they coming? 1. We are open 68 hours per week unlike you and APL. Our library is the only one for a radius of over 5 miles open these kinds of hours. 2. Unlimited computer use while you and APL limit to 2 hours or 3 hours at Aurora Central. 3. Meeting rooms are open until 9 or later since we can close off the library and stay open later. 4. Parking and everything else. Arapahoe has one of the highest mill levies in CO and the highest in the metro area so why is it we have to subsidize Denver and Aurora? Are you aware that our little area of 28000 has over 20 % low income? and our library is the only one with wait times of up to or exceeding 75 minutes each and every time someone wants to use the computers, there is little or no materials on the shelves because denver, aurora, etc have taken them out, meetings rooms our own hoas cant even fully use and the list goes on. Yes we can back up all these stats. Its unfair of Denver to expect to hog and yes thats the correct term our little library when for decades our residents never hogged any denver library to the extent we spend 68 hours a week on their computers (you never allowed it), roaming your libraries, etc. Bottom line to us is Denver needs to get with it after 9 years and 2012 will be the 10th of reduced hours and actually fund its own library system to serve not only its own residents but to deal with the broader needs of our state when it comes to materials and other issues. The main Denver library is the premier one in the state for most things so you have to understand why we say these things and you are failing Denver and as well our state by not dealing with the funding issue for almost 10 years now. By the way; we are suing our library district in district court to stop the nonsense going on at our library and to allow our own 28000 residents the access they need that they cant get due to policies of our board of trustees and our library districtor. If we get this injunction in place; both Denver and Aurora residents as well as all other non residents will be restricted. Its unfair that 28000 residents only get 25 % use of their own library due to policies that seem to be cooked up by librarians who want libraries for all but thats not how our state pays for them. Hope you can understand where we are coming from and help our situation. Thank you.
Rather a weak comeback. Being "relevant" is a good deal less than being important, critical, crucial, etc. Whatever the role of the library in the community, your letter is pabulum. If you actually wrote this, you should hire someone with some advocacy skills to help out next time. Meh.
Thanks for being relevant for me DPL! :D
What a sad, sad article. I have loved the library since I was old enough to read! It is such a peaceful refuge, a symbol of everything good that is still left in the world- sharing, building community, the pursuit of knowledge, equal access to resources, and free education. It is hard to believe anyone would question the relevance of these things, especially someone in an industry whose own relevance has been questioned quite a bit in the past several years...
Your mom is relevant!!!
Must it be all digital? Dear Denver Post the service I use most is Interlibrary Loan to access books and that needs to be considered in the budget as sharing of services and goods is infinitely less expensive than every library trying to have "complete" collections. I also use the free WiFi to access the Internet to download free foreign language podcasts that I would be unable to access any other way. These podcasts are from live foreign language radio broadcasts and not available on tapes or CDs. I can keep up my three languages without having to pay a fortune for classes that may or may not be at my level.
As commercial interests seek to define us as isolated consumers and seek to privatize all commonwealth resources and restrict access to a pay-as-you-go system the free Public Library is more needed and more relvant than ever!
As long as America remains a nation that values a democratic way of life, public libraries will maintain their relevance as a source for free and equal access to content that informs, inspires and entertains. We can't all afford every piece of content we want or need (nor should we have to buy things that can be shared). Regardless of whether content comes in print or digital form, the public library is our tax-funded resource for the acquisition, storage and retrieval of the content that enriches our lives.

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