Newton Free Library Thrives in the Technological Age The Heights – The Heights

Posted: February 20, 2020 at 9:42 am


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Newton Public Library, Massachusetts

In an era consumed by the prevalence of digital media, the Newton Free Library has not only survived, but thrived, as a meaningful institution in the county. Library cardholders have been borrowing more and more library books every year. An increase in programming, technology, and classes has also helped the library attract visitors on a regular basis.

Jill Mercurio, library director of the Newton Free Library, told The Heights in an email:

While print circulation has softened, readers are checking out even more ebook titles than ever before, Mercurio wrote.

Newton Free Library patrons borrowed more books from the library in 2019 than any past year, with a significant increase in rentals of e-books every year. The library circulated 588,449 books in 2019, marking a 4.7 percent% increase from the last fiscal year. 95,808 of these were e-books, with the other 492,641 being print books. E-book rental has increased every yearthe previous year, 76,606 e-books were rented. Cardholder data has also remained steady over the years. The library recorded 49,123 cardholders in 2019, the largest total since 2014.

The Newton Free Library has introduced a variety of programs and measures to ensure that the library is adapting to cultural changes.

Royce McGrath, Newton Free Librarys sSupervisor for pPublic sServices, outlined some of the products the library offers. The library has been using the service Overdrive for many years, which has a wide selection for e-books, digital audio books, and magazines. Users simply sign in on the Overdrive website with their library card information, and the content is available on all tablets, computers, smartphones and Kindles. Another available digital product is Hoopla.

We now offer something called Hoopla, and that lets people stream movies. It offers people current music to stream or to download to their device, and graphic novels that they can just download at home. It also has digital audio books, which are very popular, McGrath said.

The library also provides a product called Kanopy, which has independent and foreign films that people can download at home to view even when the library is closed. Kanopy and Hoopla also require users to have a library card with the Newton Free Library.

Programming has helped the library draw more crowds and make up for those who no longer come in for the borrowing of physical books.

We have Sunday concerts every Sunday where people may never even check out a book, but they just come for the free concert, McGrath said.

All events hosted by the Newton Free Library are featured on the librarys website. Events include forums, book discussion groups, clubs, classes, and more. There are also special events geared specifically towards kids, tweens, and teens such as sing-a-longs, yoga classes, and holiday celebrations.

An area of focus for the library has been programming that focuses on technology.

We have been trying to add a lot of tech help programming to help people set up emails and learn about different apps, and another thing that people are very interested in is Makerspaces, McGrath said.

According to the Newton Free Library website, a Makerspace allows people to collaborate, connect, learn, build, and create projects. Makerspaces feature specific programs as well as scheduled DIY Studio Hours. Some examples of Makerspace events include decorating pillows, building rubber band cars, making chocolate, and creating nail art. There are also repair days, where people can bring in broken items and learn how to fix them themselves. Additionally, the Makerspace includes a 3D printing service. A large number of public computers, scanners, printers, and copiers are also located throughout the library, all free of charge to the public.

Another area of programming is the English Language Learning and Literacy Program, which provides volunteer tutors to adult English language learners, as well as adults whose first language is English to improve their reading skills. According to the librarys website, around 500 volunteer tutors are currently assisting more than 700 learners.

Services such as museum passes and free home delivery to Newton residents who are unable to visit the library also showcase the vast resources that the Newton Free Library provides.

Beyond books, technology, and programming, the library plays a social role in the community.

Its also a community space where people can come, they can see their neighbors, and they can meet other people, said McGrath. They can have free programming. They can have free internet access. They can get free help. They can get free classes. They can check out musical instruments. So, its become much more of a community space and less about just coming to check out a book, per se.

Featured Image Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Excerpt from:
Newton Free Library Thrives in the Technological Age The Heights - The Heights

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February 20th, 2020 at 9:42 am

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