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Librarian Blog

Not so sure

The American-Statesman announced in today's editions that over the summer it will stop printing its own newspaper. Instead, the paper will be printed in San Antonio by the Hearst organization.

The move is to save money, the publisher said.

The immediate impact will be the loss of more than 100 jobs by people working in the press room.

The longer-term impact? The editor says in the artilce that nightly deadlines will be affected. But, that's not a big worry, she said, because today's reader is probably going to the web to look at breaking sports stories, etc.

I would not bet on that.

Yes, the rabid sports fan might go to the web on a smartphone or desktop to look up a score.

The causal fan will not, especially the casual fan who goes to bed relatively early in the evening -- a group that probably reads newspapers regularly.

But, I am not convinced that the rabid fan will read a game story right after the game. I wonder if the rabid fan doesn't want to see the the complete report in the morning while enjoying a cup of coffee.

Cutting back on services like this one may be necessary, but it reduces the quality of the daily newspaper -- to its detriment in a time when newspapers are under intense pressure anyway.

As an editor I hated being told to cut something when I knew that it would hurt the paper. My argument was that when you're threatened by competitive pressures you need to do what you do better than ever before rather than retreat and run. Add more, not less.

That's one big reason why I took a buyout when I did back in 2007.

A sad stat

A patron brought me a clipping from a recent edition of Oprah's magazine.

The item included a not-so-surprising statistic: 23 percent of American adults did not read a single book last year.

Why am I not surprised?

Because life today is just chockfull of distractions, not even counting television. I suspect, from what I see driving around Wimberley, San Marcos and Austin that at least 23 percent of American adults spend 90 percent of their waking hours on their smartphones. My gosh -- they can't tear themselves away long enough to take a trip to the grocery store. I've been in restaurants where I've seen couples spend their entire meal-time, each on a smartphone.

Maybe I'm more surprised that 77 percent of adults actually did read a book last year.

Fresh ideas

Several of us spent most of last week at the Texas Library Association convention in Austin, along with 8,000 other librarians from throughout the state.

I attended sessions on 3D printing, which was hands-on, and very informative; how to update what's on our website; how to maake things out of old books; how to make musical instruments out of everyday objects; tech tools; and many more.

I know we have some great ideas we'll be talking about to make improvements to our library and its offerings.

So, watch this space for regular updates.

Printing in 3D

I did it.

A three-hour session at the recent Texas libraries conference in Austin gave us a pretty good introduction to 3D printers and a very simple program that lets you build 3D stuff.

The software is called Tinkercad. It's very easy to use, and I was able to build a nametag and then print it out. 

I'm pretty sold on the idea that the library should get a 3D printer, and talked to some guys who are making them in the Dallas metroplex using U.S.-sourced parts. I was impressed with their printer, called the PolyPrinter.

We seem to be headed in the direction of buying something like that, depending on whether we can get grant funds.

If so, Wimberley patrons will have an opportunity to try out somethng that is truly cutting edge right here at the library.

Another sale

When a book by a very popular author comes out, we buy more than one copy. Sometimes we buy as many as five copies (anad we will still have a waiting list).

After a few months the rush to read dies down, and we end up with several books of the same title on our shelves. Since we don't have an unlimited amount of space we remove all but one and put the others on the Friends of the Library book shelves so you can buy them or put them in the annual Friends book sale in October.

This year we're trying something new: We're having a minisale. And it's coming up on Thursday, the 16th, starting at 1 p.m.

This sale will feature those newer books that we have "weeded" recently.

So, come on by, and pick up some bargains.

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