GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (March 28, 2014) – Gone are the days of the card catalog and the Dewey Decimal System. Now libraries in West Michigan are changing to meet the needs customers. That means streaming movies and downloadable music.
Despite numerous bookstores going out-of-business in West Michigan and around the country, we are learning the libraries in West Michigan are seeing record growth.
There is nothing quiet about the Kent District Library’s attempt to reach customers.
Heidi Nagel is communications director for the KDL. She said it’s a changing game when it comes to getting people interested in what the library has to over.
“They have so many things competing for their attention, convenience is huge,” she said. “That is why we have gone to the formats we are at and we are seeing a growth in that area.”
While library attendance is growing in Kent County, up 300,000 in the last ten years, the real growth is happening online.
“In 2008 we circulated about 20,000 digital items and in 2013 we circulated over 520,000 and next year we expect to hit over a million mark,” said Nagel.
Libraries function on tax dollars. The digital frontier takes up a good amount of the library’s budget.
“It’s several hundreds of thousands of dollars a year but we have cut our materials collection significantly,” she said. “Last year we cut our materials collection by over 600,000. We are buying less print items but going to where the demand is, in the digital content.”
All you need is a library card and then all services are free.
Libraries in Holland and Kalamazoo are also on board streaming movies and making music and e-books downloadable.
Movies are streamed using a service called Hoopla.
“We may buy three or four licenses for it,” said Nagel. “Which means three or four people can check out or download that at a time.”
As for e-books, “You check it out, you get it for three weeks,” she said. “If no one is waiting, you can renew it. Once your time is up the files are no longer accessible.”
And the music you check out is your to keep said Nagel, “You can download up to three a week.”
The idea is to adapt to meet the demand so the customer will keep coming back and be exposed to more.