Libraries modernize to bring literature to a technology-dependent generation

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By Danielle Duggan
Clinton County Chatter

ST. JOHNS — Even with the growth of technology and virtual books, Briggs Public Library uses summer programs and online resources to keep customers coming through the doors.

According to Sara Morrison, library director at Briggs Public Library, located at 108 E. Railroad St. in St. Johns, the summer programs the library hosts not only brings in many participants, but also assure that the children don’t forget information over the summer.

Briggs Public Library reading area is a popular area for children and adults to read.

Briggs Public Library reading area is a popular area for children and adults to read.

“I think from a standpoint of kids losing skill development when there’s that gap from when they end school to when they go back, it’s not just reading skills they lose. They lose math skills and science skills. I think having different kids of programs like that helps them keep their skills up,” said Morrison.

Morrison said she is aware of the desire for a break from school that students have during the summer. She has accounted for that in the programs and created fun activities to keep kids interested.

“When you’re talking about science, you can do hands-on experiments…that keeps them engaged and interested in learning,” said Morrison.

Trisha Cramer, library assistant, said their energetic programs interest children with exciting activities and makes learning more fun.

The summer reading program kick-off begins June 8 from 4-8 p.m. It is open to people of all ages and attracts a large age range of participants.

“We have inflatables, crafts, refreshments, [and] face painting,” said Cramer. “For all ages we have reading logs, guessing contests during the week, activity pages that are out every week, there’s reading logs for kids, teens, and adults, so different prizes for those.”

Cramer and Morrison both said the library’s online programs are popular among teens.

Computers line the library and provide student a place to work online.

Computers line the library and provide student a place to work online.

“We have more programs than we did 10 years ago for kids to come in. We do have eBooks and audio books for those who want to do stuff online. We have a Facebook page. Our website is constantly being updated so they can get the information and see what’s going on online, but then come in here to get there books or hear the stories or attend the programs,” said Cramer.

“We’ve been trying to do things like having more programs and stuff showing up on our website; we put it on our Facebook page trying to reach out to that more technology-savvy generation,” said Morrison.

According to Morrison, the difference in technological importance is the largest change that has taken place since she began working at the library 11 years ago. Between 2013 and 2014, 4,105 ebooks or downloadable audio were checked out.

“There were no downloadable eBooks when I came,” said Morrison. “Most people used the public Internet stations. Now it’s definitely swung toward where you’re seeing more people bring in their laptops or tablets and using our Wi-Fi signal. We didn’t have a Wi-Fi signal 10 years ago.”

Robin Chin Roemer, instructional design and outreach services librarian from the University of Washington, said that though many think that libraries have always been soley about print, libraries have always been changing based on user demands. When the Internet first emerged, libraries were among the first institutions to jump on board.

According to Roemer, libraries aim to get information to the public without the cost or limitations that one will run into if they find these readings online on their own. Libraries provide eBooks and audio books to readers free of charge as well.

Students can work on everything from projects and school work, to casually skimming through the Internet for fun.

Students can work on everything from projects and school work, to casually skimming through the Internet for fun.

With this increase in online reading, book checkout has decreased through the years, said Morrison.

According to Morrison, 89,559 books were checked out between 2013 and 2014, while 125,271 books were checked out between 2006 and 2007.

“[Students] come in and check out fiction books to read, but they don’t use the non-fiction resources for reports like they used to. Instead they come in and are looking for online resources to do their reports instead,” said Morrison.

Libraries have other unique resources that keep customers visiting.

“I enjoy the books on tape that I listen to in the car. That’s the main reason I still use the library for. I still have the Kindle for other books, but for books on tape I use [the library],” said library customer Jean Clark.

Despite popular belief that children have lost interest in books and are completely dedicated to staring into computer screens, some still enjoy reading literature that isn’t online.

“I like the books because it’s more realistic when you can imagine and picture all the things that are happening,” said 11-year-old library customer Chloee Sheldon.