Technology bringing changes at WPL

04/01/2014 2:02 PM

04/01/2014 2:03 PM

Technology is bringing changes to areas of life and government. The Weatherford Council heard at its March 25 meeting how it is also changing how the city’s public library is run.

In 2011, the Weatherford Public Library began to add E-books and E-audio to their services available to the public. Earlier this year, they also began offering E-magazines.

Dale Fleeger, director of library services, said this technology has led to libraries dropping traditional services.

“I’ve been involved in libraries for about 40 years and I’ve seen several changes in the services we offer,” Fleeger said.

The library is part of an OverDrive Consortium with 30 other North Texas libraries, which share over 10,000 titles. It also offers 50 magazine subscriptions through the Zinio organization they are a part of.

Being part of OverDrive costs the city about $8,000 annually. Leaving that consortium would mean the library would lose that content and would have to get in contact with publishers to seek approval to purchase and provide the content themselves.

Some providers only let libraries purchase those titles for a period of time before they have to purchase it again.

Assistant Director Chris Accardo said advantages to E-books are that they cannot be lost or damaged like hard copies can be.

Accardo referred to a library in Tucson, Ariz., that attempted to provide only E-books and the like to their users back in 2002, but later went back to the more traditional hard copies at the recommendation of the residents.

But now there is a similar one near San Antonio, the Bexar County Bibliotech library who provides thousands of digital titles but also iPads and E-readers that can be checked out.

Accardo said WPL does not plan to go all-digital. Only about 2.7 percent of the library’s circulation is in digital format.

But according to research done on the subject, that percentage is likely to increase. From 2011 to present day, the number of people who say they use E-books increased from 17 to 28 percent of the population.

“This is only going to grow,” Accardo said. “We have trouble just staying on top of things.”

The library also provides computer access to the public, at 30 work stations. In upcoming weeks they plan to update those computers and servers. Their Wi-Fi structure has also been updated.

The library staff regularly provides computer training courses to residents.

The library also is part of a TexShare database that allows user to utilize databases that provide resources such as the LearningExpress Library, an ancestry library when researching genealogies, community resources and others.

As residents become technologically mindful with the use of smart phones and other devices, the Weatherford Public Library plans to remain up to date but without forsaking the more traditional forms.

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