Taking Action to stay relevant

For most of us, the library is a place that is avoided unless given an express reason to go. Whether it be to study, find research materials or attend an event, there is typically something that has to spur us into action before we will set foot in a library.

While libraries are safe havens for stressed out students who need a relatively quiet place to sit down and do work, they are also not often the first choice of destination on any college students list. However, some campus and public libraries are looking to change this stigma surrounding libraries.

The Alachua County Public Library Department has dozens of plans in motion to encourage students and residents to visit some of their locations. Events like Fandamonium and meet and greets with popular authors are just a few examples of these plans, according to Nickie Kortus, Marketing and PR director for the Alachua County Library District.

Local libraries aren’t the only ones taking action to bring in more visitors, campus libraries are constantly updating and changing to encourage students continued patronage. While the initiatives taken by campus libraries are more intended to keep students happy and coming, they are just as notable, and can be seen in upgrades like the 3D printing lab and more frequently used social media pages.

“I usually just go to one of the university libraries if I need to study or work on an assignment,” Kasey Rolen, a sophomore Healthcare Education Major at the University of Florida said, “But if they had an interesting event, and I wasn’t too busy, I would definitely check it out.”

Events pop up in and around the libraries on campus all the time, whether it’s a Starbucks food truck, offering free samples of their preciously caffeinated beverages; or a banned books week display, featuring all of the books deemed too inappropriate to be stocked in certain libraries. These events are meant to draw students to the libraries and to give them a well earned (or not so well earned) break from their studies.

While the necessity of libraries on university campuses and in public locations is undeniable, it’s a nice change of pace to see them trying to lighten the atmosphere and give patrons a reason to actually want to visit their local library. Even though most students would still visit the library without these events, it’s a good thing to see the libraries care about their visitors perception of them.


Public Relations in the library


For many people, public libraries are a fond remembrance of childhood, somewhere we went to read the latest R.L. Stine book and get our summer reading for middle school done. In these remembrances, we rarely recall who was in charge, save for the disembodied shush that would emanate from behind the main desk where the librarians sat.

As it turns out, these librarians had a job other than shushing rowdy preteens in the summer reading section. Being a librarian in a public library is actually a pretty major responsibility Nickie Kortus, Marketing and PR Manager for the Alachua County Library District, said.

A librarian’s job includes providing information services to patrons, organizing the libraries materials, understanding and implementing the libraries policies and having an immense knowledge of bibliographic, reference and database use, Kortus said. Librarians must also aide in budget preparation, creation of library research, reports, proposals and statistics, Kortus said.

Becoming a librarian isn’t such an easy task either, Kortus said. The absolute minimum requirement to be a librarian in the Alachua County Library District is a master’s degree in Library or Information science from a school accredited by the American Library Association, Kortus said.

But it’s dealing with people that makes the job worth it, Kortus said. Alachua County Libraries host over 300 programs per month, that range from one on one technology tutorials to the upcoming Fandomonium, which will be celebrating its third year in April, Kortus said.

“My personal favorite as a library staff person is watching children get excited selecting their own books after enjoying a story or puppet show,” Kortus laughed.

A big issue with libraries in the past decade or so has been whether or not technology will render them obsolete, Kortus said. However, libraries currently play a major role in bridging the digital divide, by providing internet access to all citizens and teaching them how to use it resourcefully, Kortus said.

“Library spaces are now designed to accommodate more computer workstations and places for people to work on their laptops or mobile devices,” Kortus said.

There are also plans for the near future for the addition of early learning computers, Kortus said. These computers would allow children aged 2-8 to learn computer skills through the use of educational games, Kortus said.

Specially created teen spaces will also be added in the near future, equipped with materials that will encourage teens to hang out, play games, study and read, Kortus said. In the past year the Library district purchased 64 concurrent use Minecraft educational licenses, allowing them to offer the popular building game on their new fiber optic internet service.