Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Originally published in the California Focus Feb, 2012

Greetings from the California Area Public Library.

Last month I mentioned one of our goals for 2012 was to increase programing and services.  This month I wanted to stay with that theme and introduce you to a few ways we are going to meet that goal.

First is our newly redesigned website created by Matt Peteritis at www.calpublib.org.  This will serve as a portal to the library and what we have to offer.  You can check our hours, access electronic resources like Power Library, or find links to the community.  The events section will be especially helpful in finding out what is going on; you can even follow the link and friend us on Facebook.

OverDrive in next.  I mentioned it before and am excited to say that it is available to our patrons.  As part of the Washington and Greene Greater Information Network, with state funding, our members can now download eBooks and audiobooks form our website.  Using your library card you can now access digital media anytime, anywhere on to devices like your computer, smartphone, or eBook readers.  It is easy and convenient, perfect for days when the weather just does not want to cooperate.  Get started by visiting our website and look for the link on the main page.  If you are interested in learning more about how the service works we are looking to schedule some information sessions, call us for details.

A lot of people have been asking about computer classes.  We are in the process of scheduling them for March. There will be an introduction to computers class and another that will teach you how to use word processing and spreadsheet software.  If you are interested let us know.  We will be announcing the dates and times in the next few weeks.

Finally, we are proud to have Susan Chernay R.N. providing information sessions on nutrition to our community. Stop by to speak with her one-on-one about living a healthy life and have your blood pressure taken.  She is generously making herself available to the community.  You can also see the schedule of when she will be available by visiting the events section of our website or the Facebook page.

We are always looking for fun and interesting ways to reach out to you, so if you have an idea for events or programs you would like to see let us know.

~Brian K. Dawson
                                                  Library Director

Monday, January 23, 2012

Here is a recent interview I did with Brad Hundt of the Washington Observer Reporter about the District Libraries OverDrive initiative. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Originally published in the California Focus Jan, 2012

            Greetings from the California Area Public Library

How time flies!  As we all recover from the rigors of the holidays and finish off the last of the leftover cookies it is time to reflect and plan how to forge ahead in the New Year. 

I am just finishing up my first year here as the library director and what a year it has been.  Most of my time has been spent on learning the day to day operations of the library and getting to know the community.  My goal was to see what the library had to offer, what more we could do and how we fit into the lives of the people.  At this point I have a fairly good idea to those answers.  Before I get into that I wanted to let you know what we have accomplished this past year.

In 2011 we have invested heavily in three large projects.  The first was updating our facility.  We were able to renovate our office space increasing efficiency and work space that was welcomed by the employees.  Technology was another goal of ours.  We have been fortunate enough to upgrade equipment creating a more stable system in-house.  We now have a total of eight computers that are available publicly to our patrons along with projection equipment they can utilize.  In cooperation with the Washington County Library System we will be making e-books available through OverDrive.  Patrons will be able to borrow e-books and audio books 24 hours a day to the device of their choice with a valid library card.  We also have e-Book readers available here for our patrons to use.  The last project was serving the children of the community.  By focusing our efforts we had more children attending and participating in our Summer Reading and Story Time programs.  This was all in addition to adding new employees, expanding our collection and serving our patrons in more traditional ways.

So what is in store for us in 2012?

This year I have three goals; providing more services and programing, creating relationships with organizations to help promote those services and finally increasing community participation. We are in the process of planning programs for both children and adults.  We are planning classes on computers and health and would love to see the return of the book club.  We are hoping to partner with local organizations to help provide content that you are interested in.  We are hoping to forge stronger relationships with area schools and see how we can help them achieve their goals.  Lastly, we are hoping to develop more community participation with the library.  We have a number of ways to be involved; if you are interested on serving on our board, joining our Friends of the library group, volunteering regularly, helping us teach a class or accomplish a short term project let us know.

                                                ~Brian K. Dawson

                                                  Library Director

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A brief mention of my poster presentation in the S.I.S. Alumni e-magazine to the Board of Visitors this past October...

"Students in the LIS program are working with members of Mt. Lebanon Village (MLV), an intergenerational network of volunteers who provide support to seniors enabling them to live in their own homes and stay connected to their community. The students are developing the infrastructure for a model program that can be adapted by the other Villages throughout the US by digitizing oral history interviews of MLV members and developing metadata for the collection. The overarching goal of the project is to provide an archetype for oral history repositories deeply rooted in local communities."

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Letter to the Editor Pittsburgh Tribune Review November 2, 2011

Letter to the Editor Pittsburgh Tribune Review November 2, 2011

Link to the Original Article: <http://tinyurl.com/6y5jkln>

Heyl’s column on e-readers and the Carnegie Library made me shake my head at his absolute lack of thought. I would think he would be more informed on the value a library brings to the community.

We provide services allowing the public to research health issues, culture, religion, personal finances and locate employment. We provide access to databases, vast print collections, and 24-hour virtual reference services. We assure that people are receiving authoritative and timely information that can shape their future. We help support the mission of schools, 17% of high school students utilize our services, as do their teachers. We provide programing for all ages to foster life-long learning and early literacy to technology classes for adults.

There are 747 libraries serving 12 million people, yet nationally we rank 43rd for local government support, 38th for combined support. Without public libraries there would be an economic loss of $1.34 billion. Patrons spend dollars locally; libraries create a “halo” effect for businesses helping generate $80 million a year. Pennsylvania library’s return on investment is 5.5 times what we receive in support, for every $1 we receive we provide $5.50 of services.

Try doing that for free with an e-reader.

Mr. Heyl requested that I provide documentation to support my statement, the following is my response:

Mr. Heyl,

I do appreciate the quick response for further information on the numbers I cited. Here is a link to the study < http://tinyurl.com/6xxfbdz >.

The economic loss is the result of citizens paying for finding and utilizing alternative sources of information, as well as the lost library jobs, lost library purchases and the loss of revenue from library related businesses. Page ten of “Taxpayer Return-on-Investment (ROI) in Pennsylvania Public Libraries” provides the numbers.

The “halo” effect discussed in the above study originates from a U.K. study. I could not find an open source copy for you to read. You can locate the abstract at this link 
< http://tinyurl.com/692etmd >. If you can gain access, the libraries bolstering local businesses is on page 63. You can find the full citation is:

“What Happens When a Public Library Service Closes Down?” Proctor, R., Usherwood, B.,Sobczyk, G. Library Management. vol. 18, No. 1, 1997, pp. 59-64.

I understand that in today’s world every penny of public money should be scrutinized, but when you look at the value that libraries bring to the table you can see they are a worthwhile investment of both public and private monies. I do hope this information helps you view us in a better light.

Brian K. Dawson
Library Director
California Area Public Library

Monday, October 17, 2011

I found this article while I was searching for images of our building and was surprised (i.e. horrified) to see a picture of myself. I remember doing the interview as part of a class assignment, but had not realized it was published on the web. It was written by By Elisa Karafilis one of our clerks at the library. The article can be found here.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Originally published in the California Focus September 2011.

Growing up, the public library was the center of my world. As a young child it was a chance to spend an afternoon with my mother browsing books followed by a handmade milkshake at the local candy shop. It was time for me to have my mom all to myself without her having to worry about starting dinner or having to share her with my brothers.

Once I was a bit older it was a liberating chance to ride my bike the few blocks unescorted and spend an hour or two getting my hands on ancient mythology books and animal encyclopedias that my school librarian assured me were reserved for the sixth graders only. It was freedom to explore not only my neighborhood, but an entire world filled with Centaurs, Fates and platypuses (yes, that is the correct plural form.)

When I was a young teen the library became a place where I could figure out the world. I would look at the news magazines for stories I heard about while my parents watched the news then begin digging through the encyclopedias and figure out what all the fuss was about. I was always prepared with facts that were sure to impress the next time the topic came up on TV.

As an adult the library provided me with answers. Whether researching for college classes, looking for information on current affairs or how-to’s for the house, or even if I am just looking for something to help me escape into another world. I have found the answers at the library.

My role as a father is the most important one I have ever had and I find the library just as important. The library has provided me with time to focus my undivided attention on my children while we search out books on their interests. It has given me the opportunity to show them the world of the Greeks, strange animals and the many cultures we share on our planet. It has given me the resources to help them form their own opinions on what is going on in their lives and how to help them think through problems and find answers for themselves.

Of course this is all to be expected coming from a librarian. The real question is what does the library mean to you? Over the next few weeks I will be asking many of our community members this question and I am genuinely interested in the response. A library serves many functions; by better understanding what it means to you, we can better serve you. It also gives us a chance to see where we have come from and just as importantly where we are going.