Tag Archives: library tips

Library Thought Leaders Q&A: Mary-Carol Lindbloom (Executive Director South Central Regional Library Council)

Today’s library thought leader is Mary-Carol Lindbloom, the Executive Director for the South Central Regional Library Council in New York state.

When did you get started in reference, and more specifically virtual reference?

In the summer of 1999, when a group of us, including Tom Peters, Lori Bell, and Ginny McCoy, met in person at Eureka College (IL) to brainstorm a grant for an academic virtual reference collaborative. Eureka, indeed! Initially, as we thought about the grant, we planned to staff the virtual desk afternoons only. But it was a grant—why not experiment and use that opportunity to explore 24/7 virtual reference? Would students and others really use the service in the middle of the night? The grant application was successful, so we used that opportunity to find out. I was the project director for the grant and Bernie Sloan was the evaluator who analyzed such areas as time of day, days of week, questions, etc. I have only been involved with virtual reference in a collaborative environment—the service was planned, implemented, and delivered collaboratively. That project was called Ready for Reference; a year later we combined with a public library virtual reference service to form My Web Librarian; eventually MWL merged with AskAwayIllinois.

How did you come up with the idea for My Info Quest?

I personally didn’t! Many of us had been working with virtual reference for over a decade at that point, and Lori Bell, who worked at the Alliance Library System in Peoria in 2009, raised the question about SMS texting as a service platform for the 21st century. She was able to secure funding to test this; when the funding ended, the project continued as a library/library system-sustained program. SCRLC had been involved in MIQ from the get-go, so we took over some of the leadership after the Illinois library systems merged.

If you were to start it again, what would you do differently?

I would have a business plan from the get-go. Several virtual reference cooperatives have started with grant funding, and find it very challenging to move from grant funding to library-sustained. I might explore grant funding to study certain aspects of the service, but at the core, there has to be a committed group of libraries willing to pay for the service. There also has to be ample funding for a project coordinator/director and marketing—marketing to two difference audiences (librarians and library users).

What advice do you have to anyone looking to manage a cooperative?

This advice pertains to a virtual reference cooperative! Ensure you have adequate time and funding to devote to the process, including time to evaluate and analyze. If you do not have a general business plan or strategic plan, get with your group and develop one—include goals and objectives. As with all library positions in the 21st century (and all centuries, for that matter!), there are multiple components to manage within a virtual reference cooperative. Be comfortable with ambiguity and change—it is cliché but those are the constants—especially change. In addition to time spent on the actual desk answering questions, in MIQ there are scheduling, marketing, best practices, standards/policies, recruitment, training, and sustainability. Ensure that training is interactive, even at a distance. Sharon Kim, our current coordinator, has used Google Neighborhood and GoToMeeting to train librarians and students (we have student librarians in this service, as well). She developed practice questions that also lead trainees through the service’s best practices. Set up a Google Group to communicate (this is used to sent pointers, meeting notices, participants request temporary desk shift changes, other information, etc.). Try to meet virtually on a regular basis (we have monthly meetings for those who can tune in). Develop working groups, as needed—one wonderful aspect of being part of a collaborative service is that we don’t have to go it alone! MIQ has a culture where participants feel safe and comfortable in expressing and contributing their ideas.

What does virtual reference look like in the future?

Most libraries reachable to their users via virtual reference services! The number of libraries that are not reachable via virtual reference, i.e., SMS text and web-based chat, is amazing to me. In point-of-need service, which many of us try to provide, users/members/patrons must be able to walk in, phone, email, text, or chat up the reference desk. If I recall, according to one of the Pew studies, 31% of texters prefer texting to talking—and that was a study that included young adults but not teens. If we are to stay relevant to future users, we absolutely have to be reachable to users in all ways. I would like to see libraries rival the commercial chat services, e.g., ChaCha—to be the go-to service for questions that increasingly our smart phones can’t answer. And I do think that is a factor. We’re seeing less “ready reference” questions in our service and more library-related. With the increase in smart phone ownership, I think that those folks are finding their own quick answers. VR still enables us to be the human behind the machine! But…it could go the other way—with budget and time challenges, there could be fewer individual libraries offering their users this capability, and cooperatives could dissolve. Hopefully that only occurs in an anti-universe far, far away! My hope: All users are met at their point of need 24/7/365, by librarians—that our libraries are relevant, valued, and supported by our communities! I would also like to see VR become such a standard part of library service that there is no need for lists in the Wikipedia of libraries that offer virtual reference (or SMS text reference). When is the last time you saw a list of libraries that offer phone or email reference?

What is a current trend in libraries that interests you?

Just one? The effect of patron-driven-acquisitions on resource sharing and collection development; trends in texting for information; best practices for continuing education delivered via distance learning; assessment and the relationship between student outcomes and library services.

Ok, now ask us a question.

Where do you see Mosio for Libraries in five-years, including…..any plans for a back-up reference service?

About Mary-Carol Lindbloom: Mary-Carol is the Executive Director for the South Central Regional Library Council. SCRLC is a non-profit, multi-type library consortium, operating under charter by the New York State Board of Regents. It has member libraries located in the counties of Allegany, Broome, Cayuga, Chemung, Chenango, Cortland, Delaware, Otsego, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben, Tioga, Tompkins, and Yates. The members include academic, corporate, hospital, public, school, and non-profit libraries.

Facebook: South Central Regional Library Council
Twitter: SCRLC
LinkedIn:
http://www.linkedin.com/pub/mary-carol-lindbloom/6/a85/24a

Ideas for Improving Patron Service at Your Library, Regardless of Your Department

Customer Service

Self-Checkout Machines

Improving patron service doesn’t always mean providing the human touch; in fact sometimes it can mean giving the patron the option to forgo the human touch. One example of this is self-checkout machines.

There are many reasons why a patron might prefer to use a self-checkout machine. They may be in a real hurry and just want to pop in real quick, grab a certain title from the shelf, and dash back out. Or they may be checking out books on a subject that would make them uncomfortable to bring to the circulation desk for check out.

Providing this additional self-service checkout option improves service by giving these patrons exactly what they want – more convenience and improved patron privacy.

Staff Training and Cross-Training

There is perhaps no better way to improve patron service at your library than to ensure that the staff is well-trained on customer service strategies and able to handle any basic library function or patron request.

To ensure the first, regular customer service training should be an integral part of your library’s staff development programming. Repeated exposure to different types of strategies and techniques for improving patron service and tips on handling difficult patron situations with poise and tact will help foster a patron-centered environment.

Making sure that all staff members are cross-trained on the basic functions outside of their own departments will help ensure the second. When a patron stops a staff member to ask a question that falls outside of the staff members immediate duties and activities and that staff member is able to provide the needed assistance rather than having to go find the answer from another staff member, your patron service has stepped up to the next level.

Give Them What They Want

Finally, one of the best ways to improve patron service at your library is to provide opportunities for your patrons to tell you how you can improve service. This is easy because you don’t have to be creative; you just listen and then implement.

The old-fashioned suggestion box is still a terrific way to solicit this feedback from patrons. Add the modern incarnation to your library’s homepage – an online suggestion form – and you will have no shortage of projects to work on.

Improving patron service is an ongoing assignment. Use these techniques on a regular basis to ensure that excellent patron service in your library is no harder to find than the latest bestseller or local newspaper.

Library News Update: 3D Printing Arrives at the Library, a brief history of the Bookmobile, and more

File photo. The Johnson County Library's Shawnee branch is located at 13811 Johnson Drive.

Libraries are often on the forefront of technology. The Chicago Public Library brings new meaning to that trend with its new CPL Innovation Lab. The Innovation Lab is free to the public and features three 3D printers, 3D printing software and various related tools. The CPL is also offering workshops to introduce patrons to the technology.

Chicago Public Library To Open 3D Printer Space

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At Mosio we’ve been watching the ’3D Printer in Libraries’ trend grow and we’re all for it. Chicago isn’t the only one. Joining them is the Saxonburg Area Library in Pittsburg, which received a generous gift of one 3D printer for its patrons to explore.

Heard Off the Street: Library’s 3-D printer spits out all kinds of fun and learning

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From technology innovation to the history of an innovative way to provide service to underserviced rural communities, the Chicoer has a story of the beginning of the California State Library Bookmobile. Long before digital reference was avialable, libraries reached out to patrons by physically bringing services to them. We might even say that the Bookmobile can be seen as the start of mobile reference

Check It Out: A library on wheels

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We’re also keeping our eye and these trends in library technologies and services, from the Library as a retail space, to studies on how young people are using libraries today.

Dalby Library enters the digital age

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Library system works to serve patrons’ changing technological needs

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When Libraries Become Retailers

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Siouxland Libraries Upgrade System

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Libraries will release a “Top 10″ recommendation list starting this fall

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THE LATEST ADDITION TO THE OBAMACARE ARMY: LIBRARIES

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Library learning to grow on its own

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Hutt libraries offer eReaders

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New report maps young Americans’ library, technology use

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Lake libraries add new database useful for finding friends, doing business research and more

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Young adults like libraries and books, new study finds

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W.O.W. bus brings books, technology to Missoula County

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Healthy libraries, healthy communities

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NFC tagged library lets you research books with your smartphone before you borrow

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Library user numbers up 10,000 as eBook usage rockets

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Queens Library Introduces Downloadable E-Magazines

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Libraries offer patrons e-books

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Westfield Library offers magazine collection online

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Library use can reverse falling standards

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Johnson County Library honored for innovation

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Staten Island’s Stapleton library bigger, beautiful and chock full of books

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Library to start Sunday hours

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Found and listed by Mosio for Libraries – Patron Support Software for Libraries. All copyright belongs to original owners.

How to Create a Great FAQ Page for Your Library

isolated faq button

A Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page can be a useful tool that patrons, and even library staff, can refer to to get helpful answers to frequent questions. However, FAQs can often become outdated, and lackluster FAQs will give a poor impression of your library and its customer service. A well thought out and maintained FAQ page can serve as a great resource and a good marketing tool for library services.

 

Make sure to discover what your patrons are really asking. Keep a log at the reference desk where librarians can note questions that are asked. Go through and group like questions together and decide which questions are appropriate for a FAQ. They should be questions that are not only frequently asked, but that are brief and easily answered to completion in an online document.

 

Keep your FAQ timely and up to date. It may be too much of a burden to continually track all questions posed to the reference desk, but you may want to have reference staff note when new repeat questions seem to pop up. You can also select certain time periods throughout the year to have questions logged.

 

Ensure that your answers are clear and answer the question completely. Inquiries that require a more in depth explanation, or have various nuances,  may not be appropriate for an FAQ document.

 

Make your FAQ easy to find and easy to search. Place the link in an obvious place on your website. You may want to have the link in several locations. Group questions by subject and have a search function, so patrons can find the answers they are looking for without too much effort or any aggravation.

 

Consider letting patrons contribute ideas for the FAQ. Provide a form or a contact page for them to submit ideas. Obvious contact information is also necessary to make sure patrons know where to go next in case the FAQ doesn’t answer their question.

 

Remember that a great FAQ document can be a key element to successful customer service. Patrons can get quick satisfaction by finding their own answers to basic questions. Additionally, rather than repeatedly answering the same questions library staff can quickly and easily refer patrons directly to the FAQ, saving valuable time.

25 Great Text Messaging Acronyms You May or May Not Need to Know for Your Text-a-Librarian Service

Do you speak text?

Mosio_TextSpeak_Translator

Your patrons speak many languages, and you can’t learn them all. But one thing you can do to improve service to your patrons is familiarize yourself with some of the more common terms and phrases in their languages of preference. If your patron is text-savvy enough to be texting his or her librarian, then one of his or her languages of preference is chat and chances are he or she is up on the latest text messaging acronyms.

A great way to enhance chat service for your patrons and maximize your efficient use of time is to become familiar with some of the most common and helpful text messaging acronyms. Speaking your users’ languages, especially in online communications, will help them feel more comfortable and give that personal touch so they don’t feel like they are talking to a robot.

There are thousands of text messaging acronyms, but we want to stick to the ones that can be used in a professional environment and that are not too obscure. These are the ones your users will likely be using, and these are the ones that you should be using as well. You will want to tailor your chat acronym use to each session, gauging each individual user’s chat acronym expertise level by the acronyms that he or she uses him- or herself.

Here is a list of 25 text messaging acronyms which you can add to your arsenal of reference tools.

AAP – Always a pleasure
BIF – Before I forget
BRB – Be right back
BTW – By the way
EOM – End of message
F2F – Face to face
GL – Good luck
HAND – Have a nice day
IANAL – I am not a lawyer
IMA – I might add
IMO – In my opinion
IOW – In other words
ISWYM – I see what you mean
JIC – Just in case
OIC – Oh, I see
OTOH – On the other hand
PD – Public domain
SOW – Speaking of which
THX – Thanks
TTBOMK – To the best of my knowledge
TYVM – Thank you very much
WB – Welcome back
WRT – With regard to
WTG – Way to go!
YW – You’re welcome

The patron texting a question is typically expecting a quick response and librarians need to be prepared to answer text-a-librarian questions promptly. Lots of chat acronyms, such as ROFL and L8R, are designed for close friends. Your users may employ such acronyms, but you will want to restrict your use to the more professional ones such as those in the list above.

And if your patron sends you a puzzling collection of letters and you have no idea what they mean, Mosio’s text speak translator will give you the help you need with its 800+ text messaging acronym definitions.

Library NewsByte: The library is home to not only books, Library launches free mobile app, Vending machines latest library offering from Northland

Members of the public making good use of the Family Mobile Library during its stop at Reayrt y Chrink, Port Erin

Maureen Sullivan, President of the ALA, writes on the Huffington Post about the new Pew study showing that the vast majority of parents place a high value libraries. She discusses what libraries have to offer children and parents, from tangible resources to intangible experiences, such as instilling a love of reading and providing a safe community environment.

Libraries Offer Children Resources Not Available at Home

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One of the intangible items libraries offer to all patrons, is the experience of browsing. This editorial talks about the personal experience of browsing at the library.

Libraries offer more than books – it’s a personal experience

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In this difficult economy, people are finding the library can be an essential resource in finding a job. The Spencer Daily Reporter talks specifically about the ways the Spencer Public Library is helping patrons in their job search. They include access to computers and the internet and books on cover letters, resumes, and job searching. Additionally, the library website has links to skill building resources.

How the library Can Help You to Find a Job!

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Read more about the ways libraries are helping people in these other news items.

The library is home to not only books

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Clive library to launch new online catalog

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Library makes changes

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Parents Value Libraries’ Digital Technologies and Programs, Pew Research Shows

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The New York Public Library Discusses eBook Pilot Projects

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Get the library app

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Even in Digital Age, Libraries Still Considered Crucial to Youth Development by Most U.S. Parents

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College Libraries Transition to High Tech Learning Centers

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Libraries; maintaining a role in the digital world

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Mobile service helping those who can’t get to local library

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B-BP Looking to Shore Up Library Programs, Enhance Technology

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Little Free Library is a great, big idea in little, tiny space

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Shorewood-Troy Library Now Offers Home Delivery Service

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Vending machines latest library offering from Northland

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Magazines go digital at Garfield County Libraries

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More people using libraries with book loans up 3% in 2012

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3D Printing Comes to Sunnyvale Library

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New Rochelle Library is not bed-bug infested

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New Library Program to Try Out Tablets & E-Readers Starts at 10 a.m.

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Library launches free mobile app

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Libraries unite to bump up size of catalog

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The bookmobile gets the digital treatment

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Found and listed by Mosio for Libraries – Patron Support Software for Libraries. All copyright belongs to original owners.

Library News: Digital public library with vast archive opens, ‘Libraries’ come in all shapes and sizes these days, US Presidential Libraries Contribute to Research, Education

Children read at the Centre de Lecture et d'Animation Culturelle (CLAC) in Byblos. [Photo courtesy of CLAC Byblos]

Library director hope smart phone app will help slow declining circulation

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Sacramento library adds 3-D copier to its bag of tricks

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Digital public library with vast archive opens

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Library Usage Increases

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Holyoke to promote child literacy by creating ‘mini-libraries’ at police substations, stocking cruisers with books

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‘Libraries’ come in all shapes and sizes these days

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York County Libraries to release mobile app, YCL Mobile

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lsley Library provides digital local newspaper collections

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Libraries are vital to the community

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Study: People still see value of libraries

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Baylor Central Libraries buys almanac signed by Ben Franklin

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Aztec Library expands technology with free tech classes, smartphone app

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Library continues expanding collection

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Cambridge libraries go beyond the bookmobile

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Library releases app for phones

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Libraries set to provide free wi-fi

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Libraries still relevant today

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US Presidential Libraries Contribute to Research, Education

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Public libraries in Lebanon: a novel phenomenon

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Siouxland libraries strive to be more than just book places

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Public Library Extends Helping Hands for Computer Literacy

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National Library of Scotland to hire ‘Wikipedian’

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George Demko: Library is as relevant as ever in electronic age

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Libraries are a tech and reading hub

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Saving America for posterity at the Library of Congress

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Found and listed by Mosio for Libraries – Patron Support Software for Libraries. All copyright belongs to original owners.

Library News: Vast ‘Digital Public Library Of America’ Opens Today, Library System committed to humanities-based services, Libraries offer ‘Food for Fines’ amnesty

Book News: Vast ‘Digital Public Library Of America’ Opens Today

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The Rosenbach Library and Museum Merges With Free Library of Philadelphia Foundation

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Sneak peek: GVSU offers first glimpse of its new $65 million library

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Free to read library kiosk arrives in Heidelberg

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Music, book downloads free at library

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Library System committed to humanities-based services

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Public libraries play crucial role in American society

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Digital public library with vast archive opens

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Communities flourish with libraries’ help

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Why libraries are relevant in the Google age

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Libraries offer ‘Food for Fines’ amnesty

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How libraries stay vital in a digital age

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Today’s Launch of The Digital Public Library of America

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Libraries educate, inspire and entertain

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Library adapting to evolving future

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Geauga County Public Library upgrading digital catalog to Encore

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Park Hills Library goes wireless

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New Digital Public Library of America seeks to increase accessibility to treasured works

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Amherst Libraries now offering Nook readers for checkout

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Resident finds more than books at library

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Library Sought to Anchor New Reese Development in Bronzeville

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America’s new ‘digital public library’ brings millions of documents online

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Brooklyn Public Library Eyes E-Book Sales As New Income Resource

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Philly Free Library to Merge with Rare Book Specialist Rosenbach

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Library turned into a place of wonder and treasure

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Found and listed by Mosio for Libraries – Patron Support Software for Libraries. All copyright belongs to original owners.

Library News: E-books on Loan, Libraries will collect “Food for Fines”, Tips for a Stress-Free Library Experience

Rochester Library Can Now Text You When Your Favorite Author’s Latest Book Hits Shelves

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Libraries’ literacy program helps meet families’ needs

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E-books on loan from Frackville, Orwigsburg libraries

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Public libraries evolving with technology

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Take your libraries seriously

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Libraries across the world

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Libraries will collect “Food for Fines”

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New York Public Library Renovation: First Visualizations Released

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Stolen Little Free Library Finds Its Way Home

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Longmont Public Library patrons will have access to millions of titles

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Tips for a Stress-Free Library Experience

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Library Reading Garden Blooming Soon!

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E-book service at Staunton library

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Library hosts tech sessions to boost gadget know-how

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Branching out: New technology should free library staff for other tasks

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Library News: Libraries See Opening as Bookstores Close, E-readers on the rise, SF Library: No Bedbug Risk From Books

Libraries See Opening as Bookstores Close

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More Relevant Than Ever

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At libraries, children find delight in reading to dogs

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Libraries to get cheaper, faster book loan service

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Kalamazoo Little Free Libraries promote literacy and community

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E-readers on the rise, e-books checked out frequently at libraries

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Library use on the up

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Libraries bring enrichment

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Building Rural Libraries Close to Heaven

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Farmington Public Library unveils latest in technology

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Public libraries remake themselves in digital era

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Library helps keep kids, soldiers connected

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No more overdue library fines for kids in Whatcom

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Libraries Are a Southern Tier Growth Industry

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SF Library: No Bedbug Risk From Books

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