Minnesota's libraries are rushing to adapt to a post-book world

  • Article by: David Peterson , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 2, 2014 - 9:51 PM

As visits decline, mission shifts to e-downloads and on-site activities across metro area.

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lami0102Feb. 2, 1410:14 PM

Go ahead and rebrand yourselves on my dime. When will the government stop funding a sinking ship? Look at the blockbuster library in downtown, it is a flashy wasteland that costs millions to build. Let's work with what we have going forward.

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FrankLFeb. 2, 1410:51 PM

Part of the decline is that there is little need to go to the library for reference books, it can be found on line. For people just using the library for novels, there are so many of cheap or free books available there's no reason to go to the library. The little free library in front of my local Y has more books than I have time to read.

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baseball91Feb. 2, 1410:53 PM

Closing libraries, for those complaining of tax expenditures for this great community resource, would impact a community. Maybe because half of all Americans now own a tablet or e-reader, foot traffic is down. So the internet is changing libraries like it is changing all media. The library I frequently visit is filled with the children of immigrants using resources that they do not have at home. What would a democractic repreentative government be like if everyone was illiterate? Twenty-six percent of library patrons say their use has gone up in the past 5 years; 22 percent say it has gone down, per the Pew Research Center. Though I might not check out a book, I will have visited the library 13 times before mid-April. The old measures to compare do not always work in the fast changing world. We do live in a world with les and less reaing as 22 percent told the Pew Research Center they had not read a book in the previous 12 months; I belive that trend away from reading is more troublesome than worrying about library usage.

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tocquevilleofedinaFeb. 2, 1411:34 PM

Until libraries can figure out how to download homeless people hanging out at the downtown library off the Internet, , we need to keep funding it's existence.

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Area51Feb. 3, 14 7:24 AM

It will be an interesting discussion if the re-imagined library is a community center offering government services and meeting areas, many communities already have those so is this just another center funded by a different level of government? I'm old fashioned, I still think libraries are a great community resource, but thought needs to be given to duplication of services and wisely spending our dollars.

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garibaldFeb. 3, 14 7:36 AM

When I worked downtown, I used the library every week. Now that I am retired, I use my local library in Scott county and occasionally travel to a Hennepin county library just to browse the larger selection. The library has saved me thousands of dollars, I could never afford to buy all that I read, watch and listen to. For me, the library is an absolutely essential public amenity. I encourage people to investigate what the library has to offer. Although it flies in the face of the free public library concept, I would be willing to pay a nominal charge for each item checked out. Maybe this charge should only be levied once people reach a certain number of checkouts annually (but never on children's materials). I assure you it would not change my library habits one iota!

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utopiaFeb. 3, 14 7:43 AM

There has been a "paradigm shift" if I may use that to describe the change in global society. The internet has moved people into cocoons, in which only friends and family are invited. Everyone else is touched by mere digital thread. While the internet has brought a great number of good things, it has also brought the decline in personal visitation to places such as libraries.

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honeybooFeb. 3, 14 7:52 AM

This article essentially says libraries are obselete and that they are delving into barely-relevant activities to stay in existence. Policy makers need to close them. Libraries are buggy whips in a digital age.

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mpls5555Feb. 3, 14 8:36 AM

Only time will tell if continuing to spend money on physical libraries is wise, but it reminds me of what was said when TV was invented and became commonplace. Popular opinion was "going to the movies" would soon be a thing of the past. To a certain extent, I think the same is true of libraries. Besides a community gathering point, visits to the library building brings in-person assistance from a librarian, a quiet place to read, study or simply change indoor environments over a long winter, and a chance to physically browse books, movies and tv shows, newspapers, magazines and other material that can't be done from a screen at home. I don't visit library buildings often but I'm glad they're there when I do. I support the small amount of my tax dollars that go to maintain them.

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EleanoreFeb. 3, 14 8:37 AM

Forget the big problem I have with this article, the little problem points it out. One of the sources in the article referred to citizens who use the library as "consumers". The mindset here is incipient so I can understand the lazy thinking. Consumers exist to consume, their status is defined by the relationship between provider and consumer. People who benefit from the library don't even need to visit it. Having the option in your community, should a specific need arise in your life, or merely as an option to drop in and browse without the specific intent to consume anything increase the entire communities quality of life. If you have young kids you probably understand this better than if you don't. I would have liked the staffer to have referred to the citizens who use benefit from the library as "Patrons" because they actually do fund it, rather than pretend this is merely another faceless commercial relationship reducing citizen to consumer. That’s just wrong thinking.

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