CARLSBAD — In an effort to meet ever-evolving technologies and community demands, Carlsbad libraries are striving to offer more online content, provide mobile access to resources, give trainings on new technology, and redesign facility space, according to library officials and an April 16 report.In her “Libraries of the Future” presentation before the city last month, Library Board of Trustees member and Carlsbad’s Library and Cultural Arts Director, Heather Pizzuto explained that community members now expect speedy, round-the-clock services that can be accessed online from local libraries. She said that consumers also require space and facilities in the library that allow them to multi-task with paper materials and multiple mobile devices including laptops, cell phones, and eReaders.
“The library becomes a place where they are attempting to accomplish a whole host of activities in one space,” said Pizzuto.
The city’s libraries are constantly working to keep up with patrons’ changing demands and the latest technology, she said.
“Library services have been constantly evolving,” said Pizzuto. “The challenge for us is selecting those improvements of updates that have the greatest value to the community,” she added.
“People say that they don’t need the library any more,” said Glynn Birdwell, principal librarian for Carlsbad’s Learning Center. “Libraries are busier than ever, so that’s not the case.”
Over the past few years, the library has increased the number of audio books and digital books, known as eBooks, in its collections as more and more patrons choose to read books on devices like iPads, Nooks and Kindles.
This March, audio book downloads more than tripled from the same month last year, while eBook downloads increased by nearly 1,000 with 2,112 downloads compared to 1,261 downloads last year.
Yet the libraries are selective about the types of eBooks it invests in.
While the libraries provide a great deal of popular fiction in eBook format, the libraries don’t offer children’s books for electronic devices, Pizzuto said.
She explained that the tactile feel of books helps young children learn; also, children often borrow multiple books each visit, which would make it difficult for the libraries to provide a great enough quantity of eBooks for children.
The libraries have avoided offering downloadable videos out of concerns for potential violations of digital rights, she said.
To help community members utilize these eBooks, the libraries have started offering workshops on how to use various digital reading.
Demand for these classes have continued to rise, and library staff has had to work to keep up with the latest technology, said Birdwell.
“Maybe no one is going to want a Nook class in five years, but we will offer a class in something else,” Birdwell said.
The library department is currently working on a number of proposals to improve access to the libraries’ catalogues and updates its facilities as part of the city’s capital improvement program as well.
Currently the library has three different systems to locate its materials catalogue, online databases and digital content, and the department would like to pursue uniting the three into one system, Pizzuto said.
The department hopes to obtain funds to increase wiring and electrical access points at all of its facilities to make it easier for patrons to use their own mobile devices in the libraries, according to Pizzuto.
With the facility redesign, the libraries may also consider allocating more space for patrons to work on personal wireless devices, said Birdwell.
These proposals will come before City Council at the May 7 meeting.
But in light of all of these changes and new library uses, Pizzuto said that the core mission of the library has not changed. Overall, the libraries’ resources strive to promote literacy and help people locate answers.
“We’re still a place that people come for help,” she said.