With the free range of fiction and decline of censorship, public libraries took the next step, adapting to the needs of their communities, by adding audiovisual resources. “In 1990 libraries offered not only books and periodicals, films and recordings, but also videocassettes, compact discs, audio books, and sometimes even the playback equipment” were making their way into public libraries.(18) Some libraries had reservations about adding the audiovisual materials into their collection, but others did not. When Denise van Zanten (director at the Manchester City Library) started working at public libraries as a page, she recalled that:
“video tapes were just making their way into libraries, this was seen as taboo by many librarians since it was more recreational then informational. The library I worked in embraced this new media whole heartedly and had a whole area of the building dedicated to the collection. Over the years I have seen movies move onto disc and then into digital formats, the same has been true for music and books.”(19)
It took time for public libraries to embrace audiovisual materials. With the advancement of new technology, public libraries transitioned from video tapes to DVD’s and Blu-Ray’s, and cassettes to CDs. Claudia Mayer (retired librarian from the Manchester City Library) remarked:
“Videos were King back in those early days at the library and took a while for the library to transition to DVD’S. Initially, there was a lot of concern about their longevity. In my first years in Circulation, we still had music cassettes and any music CD’s we had were handled way differently than they are today. All of the CD’s were kept in sleeves and patrons would bring the case for the CD to the desk. Circulation staff would then retrieve the appropriate CD and put it in the case before it could be checked out. Now libraries can subscribe to programs that allow them to stream movies, and music to patrons. Books on Tape gave way to Books on CD.”(20)
Over the years, DVDs/Blu-Rays, CDs and the videogame collections have grown to meet the needs/wants of the patrons. Some patrons at the Manchester City Library cannot afford cable but having a large DVD collection is a benefit to them: this is one of the comments frequently heard by the staff from patrons. With the development of new videogame technology, the Manchester City Library has kept their collection updated, recently adding Nintendo Switch in 2018.
With advancement in technology, public libraries have adapted to the needs of their patrons by adding ebooks. There were similar concerns whether or not they would be used. Many of the staff at the Manchester City Library stated that various ebook platforms were one of the ways that libraries can remain relevant in the growing digital age. There are various platforms to download ebooks from, including OverDrive, Cloud Library, RBDigital, and Hoopla. “A clear trend in the growth of ebook circulation over a four-year period can be seen in the figure supplied by the service provider OverDrive: 4 million ebook checkouts in 2010 grew to 16 million in 2011, 54 million in 2012, and 79 million in 2013.” (21) Mary-Jean Chaput (librarian at the Manchester City Library) remarked that “downloadable ebooks and audio books are very popular and most patrons can easily figure out how to connect to Overdrive, Hoopla, & Cloud.”(22) However, some patrons might not be able to access the internet at home, and they could not use the various ebook platforms stated, Susan Harmon (librarian at the Manchester City Library).(23) Having the option of printed or digital material gives the patron the choice of what platform they want to use. Katie Jennings (circulation clerk at the Manchester City Library) said that:
“although the option of digital demand is still ever present, children, families, adult and seniors alike still enjoy the traditional feel and method of reading and learning form something in print. Computers can go out during a power outage, fail, glitch, congest, and cause eye-strain but a book doesn’t need to be plugged in, charged, turned off in an airplane, have WiFi/LTE access, or need time for uploading/downloading and all the inconveniences that come along with technology. It goes to show that while we may be moving forward with technology, some things will remain the same–such as that libraries will and always should be associated with reading, learning, and (of course) books!”(24)
Being attuned to patrons’ needs/wants is paramount for public libraries. Whether patrons wanted DVDs, books or ebooks, library staff should try provide these materials. David Basora (librarian at the Manchester City Library) said it best when
“we have had to not only pay attention to changing reading trends when ordering books, but also generally what type of content people are consuming most often. Watching these trends has led to an increase in digital materials, as well as alternate library services and materials, such as having a large DVD and CD collection. We have also been carrying more graphic novels and paperback novels because of renewed or expanding interest in these books.”(25)
Public libraries have adapted to the needs of their communities by providing digital resources for early literacy. The Manchester City Library equipped the children’s room with digital resources for early literacy: Leap Frog and Playaway’s Launchpads. Children’s librarian: Mary Glavin said that making the shift to digital materials is a way that libraries can adapt, still be relevant. She also stated that as a library, “we need to shift priorities as needs arise, and purchase what patrons are asking for.” (26) This is true for literacy resources; some kids are able to learn by using these digital resources. Karyn Isleb (Children’s librarian at the Manchester City Library) said “we focused on two age groups- 3-5 years/ Preschool-K and 5-7/K-grade 2,” when purchasing the Playaway Launchpads. These launchpads are a similar shape to iPad/ Kindle and contain various apps for different subjects. Karyn Isleb said that the launchpads had “a wide range of subjects… English, Writing, STEM, Math, Science, Space, Language learning, Kindergarten prep and English as a second language.”(27)
Follow the progression of change and adaptation that public libraries have made, by adding educational resources to their patrons: with the use materials and museum passes. Click here to find more information.