Princeton Public Library 1 – Study Tour 2007

This is my first study tour blog post and in the interests of readability, I will break down the entries so that they don’t end up being too long. This is only a representation of what I discover, to blog it all would be more like a book than a blog post!

My first stop on my whirlwind study tour! I came down to Princeton from New York by train last night, so that I was fresh and ready for my visit today (as fresh as time lag would let me be anyway). The Princeton Library is a beautiful newish 3 storey building in Princeton township, not far from Princeton University. The three levels are themed – the first floor is a browsing collection, with media, express fiction and new books organised in a bookstore type layout. The second floor is the adult collections and the main computer area (they have over 100 public PCs) and the third floor is the children’s and teen areas. The first floor has a large seminar room, a Friends run library store and an outsourced cafeteria. The other two floors also have several meeting/seminar rooms of various sizes. There is also some beautiful public art interspersed throughout the building. You can check out the photos I took on Flickr.

I first met with Janice Painter from Access Services (equivalent to our Tech services) and talked about Innovative’s Millenium ILS. They send courtesy notices by email, 2 days before items are due as a reminder. 90% of users get these. Overdue notices are also sent by email. The only paper used is for overdue notices for non-email contactable users and for bills which are sent out on paper only. Since this was introduced, fines revenue has dropped dramatically. What a great PR move! In 2007 they will be introducing federated search and mashups through new Millenium upgrades. They have a staff blog for news and views and are looking at using a staff wiki for tips and tricks. The Book Club wiki from last Summer’s reading program will be run through new features available in their ILS this year, making the most of the new features of reviews and comments. Although a n intensive process, they will be entering old reviews into the catalogue to start the process. They use RFID and Libramation’s self check and have tapped into Innovative’s API to make it work with their ILS.

Tim Quinn – Public Information – gave me the grand tour of the library, both the public areas and behind the scenes. They have several video screens throughout the library, which displays their events calendar, which is extensive. Their beautiful art wall will have a PC nearby which will allow visitors to access information about each individual tile that comprises the work. They use a bookstore philosophy on their first floor, with their express collection – latest releases with 1 week loan and increased overdue charges, new release DVD rentals ($1 overnight) and their large media collection. The 2nd floor is reference and the adult collections, with the teens and children on the 3rd. They have free wireless in the library and into the plaza next door, which is available 24/7. Their Technology Centre is open to the public for set hours when not being used for classes, with each PC having the full Adobe Suite so people can work on projects or try software out. It also includes scanning and an AV media centre.

Barbara Silberstein, their Media Librarian took me through their downloadable media. Unfortunately, due to digital rights management, it is only available to MP3 players with Windows DRM, so doesn’t include iPods. They offer Overdrive through the Listen NJ consortia and Netlibrary downloadable audio books and streaming music from Alexander Street Press. The Listen NJ option offers several 1000 titles, but with only 1 simultaneous users, but it does have a holds facility. Audio books must be downloaded to computer first, using specific software, after which they can be transferred to an MP3 player. The consortia set a loan period of 10 days, due to long holds lists. These titles are not listed in the catalogue and account for about 100 loans a month. Netlibrary adds 30 titles a month and at present they have about 1500 available. They are accessible through the catalogue, their website or directly from Netlibrary, but the user requires a user account which is set up through the library. Loans are for 3 weeks for up to 7 titles and they have unlimited simultaneous users. Loans are mid 100s per month. Barbara said that loans have remained flat, most likely due to the DRM issues. Hopefully with the recent announcement by EMI that they will be making DRM free music available, this issue will be resolved for libraries soon. They also have streaming African American, Classical and Global Sound music, for free. Must be played live on computer and can only be saved with credit card details. Users can create playlists and search for particular music in a wide variety of ways. It includes childrens, spoken, old jazz, older stage and screen music and much more. They have a licence for 5 simulataneous users, but the most they have ever had is 3. It is relatively inexpensive and generally well used.

That concluded the morning. More later.