Baseball Season Starts Now with your Library

Major League Baseball was set to open its season today, but it has been delayed as a result of the Covid-19 crisis. Even though the players won’t be taking the field, you can still get your baseball fix today through your Massachusetts library! 

The Digital Commonwealth has an extensive collection of historic baseball photos taken by legendary Boston photographer Leslie Jones.  Jones took photographs of the Red Sox and the Boston Braves throughout the mid twentieth-century, and captured many visiting players as well including Jackie Robinson. There is also baseball artwork, photos of the UMass Amherst baseball team, and other historic photos of the game being played in and around New England.Baseball is not only a game, it is the inspiration for numerous books, available at your fingertips through the Massachusetts eBook program LEA. New  titles include Evie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes, a love story about “a woman who has lost her husband and a major league pitcher who’s lost his game,” The Resisters by Gish Jen, a story about a dystopian future where society is divided and baseball allows one young girl to cross that divide, and The Cactus League by Emily Nemens which “unravels the tightly connected web of people behind a seemingly linear game.” Classic baseball books available through LEA include Wait Till Next Year by Doris Kearns Goodwin, The Natural by Bernard Malamud, and Ball Four by Jim Bouton. Get started with LEA today by borrowing a book about baseball.

Filmmaker Ken Burns has allowed PBS to stream his renowned nine part documentary “Baseball” for free on its website. The documentary starts at the very origins of the game in the nineteenth-century and follows it up to the present day highlighting the unique aspects of the game and the personalities that have made it the nation’s pastime. The documentary is streaming for a limited time on the PBS website.Even though the umps won’t be yelling “play ball!” today, we can at least indulge in some photographs, books, and movies to hold us over until the baseball season officially begins.

Looking Ahead to 2020

Patrons exploring the Valente Branch of the Cambridge Public Library

By Rob Favini, Head of Library Advisory and Development at the MBLC

One of the most interesting parts of my job involves providing outreach and advisory services to librarians, directors, trustees and friends groups. It is a unique perspective that affords me a front row seat to what’s happening in libraries across the Commonwealth. With the start of the New Year, I’ve been thinking about the important trends that I will be following in 2020. I’d like to share my top 5 in no particular order.

EBOOKS

Libraries have been dealing with challenges around eBooks for quite some time now. First there were logistical problems to solve around platforms and policy. In 2019 a new set of challenges was brought to the forefront with MacMillan Publishing’s embargo of new title access to public libraries. With consumer eBook sales slowing and library eBook circulations exploding Macmillan is making the argument that libraries hurt book sales. The proposed embargo unified libraries in opposition and resulted in dozens of letters to Macmillan’s CEO John Sargent from Massachusetts libraries and organizations and an ALA national campaign and petition.  Libraries and publishers will be following this case very closely throughout 2020 as it may set a new industry standard.

LIBRARY AS SOCIAL CONNECTOR

To borrow Eric Klinenberg’s term from his book Palaces for the People, libraries continue to play the important role in maintaining social infrastructure, the glue that binds communities together. Across Massachusetts, libraries have become a driving force of social infrastructure with innovative programs and services that used to be unique but are now commonplace. Library programs and services around STEM, ESL, Citizenship, Wi-Fi hotspots, library of things, workforce development (the list can literally go on and on) are now common. In 2020 libraries will continue to adapt services to social needs as they address the ongoing opioid crisis, the 2020 Census, community food/housing insecurity, and a presidential election to name just a few.

LIBRARY TRUSTEES AND FRIENDS ARE NEEDED NOW MORE THAN EVER

The MBLC’s advisory services to library Boards of Trustees and Friends Groups covers a lot of territory from trustee orientation sessions to fielding inquiries on dozens of topics every day. The amount of activity speaks to the important role that these groups have in the promotion and advancement of public libraries. When Trustees and Friends are well informed and aligned with the goals of the library they become powerful advocates. As crucial as these allies are, there are many libraries with unfilled trustee seats, or open positions on their Friends’ boards. The health of Trustee and Friend boards directly impact the health of our libraries. Attracting active participation from all voices in the community is critical and pays big dividends. Current Trustees, Friends, and library staff should always be on the lookout for the next great addition to their boards.

THEY DIDN’T TEACH ME THAT IN LIBRARY SCHOOL!

The list of skills needed to run a successful library seems be growing at an accelerated pace. In addition to the demands created by innovated programing mentioned earlier, library managers are increasingly finding themselves in uncharted territory. Today’s library manager has to have expertise in human resources management, budget analysis, local political/regulatory process, environmental science and public relations. To make things even more complicated, every municipality is unique so even library managers with experience are challenged. The good news is that efforts in 2019 by the Massachusetts Library System with their Library Director Round Table series and the Massachusetts Library Association’s Leadership and Management Section have started a conversation and support network for library directors and managers.

LATE FINES

2019 saw a growing number of libraries go fine free in Massachusetts and across the country. Earlier in the year the American Library Association passed a resolution declaring library fines an economic barrier to library access and a form of social inequity. Many libraries have come to the conclusion that in their communities fines are not an effective way to ensure that materials are returned in a timely manner, and many make the argument that fines have become a barrier to library access disproportionately impacting younger and lower income users. Recent libraries that have announced going fine free include the Robbins library in Arlington, The Jones Library in Amherst, the Morse library in Natick, and the Burlington Public Library. In addition the Boston Public Library announced the abolishment of fines for library users under the age of 18. This is a trend that is picking up momentum, and will no doubt continue in 2020.

How are these trends impacting your library? What’s on your radar for 2020? Leave a comment and join in the conversation!

Statewide eBook Sharing Evolves

By Greg Pronevitz, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Library System

Change doesn’t come from sitting on the sidelines, waiting. That’s certainly true for how the library community in Massachusetts has approached statewide eBook sharing. Six years ago the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) and the Massachusetts Library System (MLS) convened the Resource Sharing Unbound workshop. Faced with the inability to share eBooks in the same way we share print books, vendors who wouldn’t sell eBooks to libraries, and eBook pricing that was sometimes five times more than what consumers paid for the same eBook, librarians at this workshop agreed that statewide eBook sharing was a priority.

We’ve come a long way
A call to action went out to Massachusetts libraries that resulted in a modest eBook pilot project of 50 libraries in 2013.  Since then, the program known as the Commonwealth eBook Collections (CEC), has grown dramatically to 568 libraries of all types with access to over 100,000 items in Axis 360, BiblioBoard Library and Ebook Central.  The program provides a platform for marketplace advocacy and engages Massachusetts libraries in national discussions and initiatives to improve access to eBooks.

The Next chapter in eBooks
In the spring of 2017, the MLS, MBLC and the Automated Library Networks began exploring statewide eBook sharing options. Shortly thereafter, OverDrive proposed a pilot to connect the networks together into a single collection for library users. This pilot takes a major leap toward a true statewide eBook solution. In the fall, Minuteman, OCLN and SAILS joined the pilot and have since been working with OverDrive to develop this exciting solution for Massachusetts libraries.  MLS, MBLC and the Automated Library Networks plan to expand this pilot statewide.

What’s next
MLS and MBLC are pleased to announce that beginning July 1, 2018 OverDrive will be the new vendor for Commonwealth eBook Collections. Very soon, you’ll hear from MLS with more information about what this means for your library as well as information about the enrollment and the transition.  There’s much more to do, but we are excited about this transition. A true statewide eBook solution is close at hand!

It’s Always Baseball Season at Massachusetts Libraries

Opening Day is getting so close you can start to feel it; the days are getting longer, the snow is melting, and the air is getting warmer. Pretty soon we’ll be back to the pennant race, but for now there is still more time to wait until the first pitch.

To fill this gap, you can find books, pictures, newspaper articles and more from your local library to satisfy your baseball needs until opening day rolls around.

Because baseball is the sport that best lends itself to literature, reading may be the best way to get excited for the new season. Baseball has been the muse for countless authors since its earliest days as a sport. Concord resident and Historian Doris Kearns Goodwin’s memoir “Wait Till Next Year” tells her story of growing up in New York when the Dodgers, Giants, and Yankees all competed for the city’s loyalty. “Ball Four” is former Yankees pitcher Jim Bouton’s diary of the 1969 season as he tried to restart his career with the expansion Seattle Pilots as a knuckleballer. Bernard Malamund’s classic “The Natural” is probably more famous for its film adaptation starring Robert Redford, but the book (Malamund’s first) is just as good.  All of these books and many more baseball classics can be found through the Commonwealth Catalog.

If the early history of the game is what piques your interest, you can find information and artifacts through Biblioboard’s baseball anthology. It has early rules, how to guides, pictures, and histories to educate and entertain you.

You can find more of Boston’s baseball history at the Digital Commonwealth. Search through old photos of the Red Sox, the Boston Braves, and the teams that have visited Boston to take on the hometown teams.

If all of this isn’t enough, and you just want to relive the recent Red Sox glory days, head over to www.mass.gov/libraries and search through the archives of the Boston Globe to take yourself back to 2004, 2007, and 2013, and feel like you’re winning the World Series with the Sox all over again.

We hope that you enjoy these fun resources all season long as you kick back with some peanuts, Cracker Jacks, and root, root, root for your home team.

 

What’s all the Buzz about Audiobooks?

What is the fastest growing segment of the publishing industry right now? According to an Audio Publishers Association sales survey, it is audiobooks.

The Wall Street Journal reports “35,574 audiobook titles were released in the U.S. and Canada in 2015, compared with 7,237 in 2011.” They go on to explain that “People listen to audiobooks while traveling, exercising, gardening and relaxing at home. They switch devices from one activity to the next, listening on smartphones, tablets, computers and MP3 players.”1

What is even more exciting is that libraries are taking notice too, and there is an expanding collection of audiobooks available for Massachusetts residents to enjoy for free. Through the Commonwealth eBook Collections (CEC) and other services offered through your local library, you can borrow and listen to hundreds of today’s top titles. All you need to access these titles is a library card!

To listen to audiobooks through the CEC, visit www.commonwealthebookcollections.com and simply search for the title you’re looking for. In addition to audiobooks, you will also find eBooks and other digital resources that you can use.

If your library is not a member of the CEC, visit the Boston Public Library’s website to learn how you can access their digital materials as a Massachusetts resident through their role as the Library for the Commonwealth (http://www.bpl.org/collections/downloadable.htm), or contact your local library and they will point you in the right direction to begin listening to your favorite books.

Now, when you are preparing for a road trip, doing yardwork, or just looking for something to listen to around the house, you can enjoy some great audiobooks courtesy of your local library. Happy listening!

 

1 http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-fastest-growing-format-in-publishing-audiobooks-1469139910

 

Happy Read an eBook Day!

Did you know today, September 16th, is Read an eBook Day? I didn’t either, but I just so happened to download the electronic version of Stacy Schiff’s The Witches: Salem, 1692 this morning, and OverDrive let me know what’s up.

I live in Somerville and The Witches is our city’s community reads title for 2016. Last night, I checked out the 400+ page hardcover tome and immediately dreaded lugging it around town. Luckily, Minuteman Library Network’s OverDrive collection came to the rescue – I now have the ultra-portable ebook version on my phone, too. Woohoo!

There’s even a hashtag, #eBookLove, for y’all to wax poetic and join in the celebration. What are you e-reading right now? Let us know!