CVCL Library Talk

get the lowdown on Camp Verde Community Library


1 Comment

Taking It to the Next Level

Ok. Crazy as it sounds, it’s been nearly two years since I started as Library Director at Camp Verde Community Library. When I took the job, I wasn’t really sure why I was needed. Fortunately I was given the freedom to figure that out on my own. It didn’t take me long to see ways to take library services to the next level (and I’m NOT talking about the 2nd floor) and to begin to get a vision for the future.

Early efforts went toward reorganizing the space and stuff inside the library to better use what we have. We did this by maximizing space for the public and minimizing space for staff, by making staff and services more accessible to patrons, and by improving the organization and display of materials to make them more accessible.

To illustrate what I mean when I talk about taking library services to the next level I’m going to use an analogy given to me by our Library Teen Advisory Board Manager, Sebra Choe. The telephone. Forty years ago (when the current library was built, by the way), how did you use your telephone?

First of all, it was tethered to the wall. It was used to make phone calls. Then came answering machines and wireless handsets. It was still mainly used to make phone calls, but now you might be able to walk outside or into the garage while chatting. Or, you could record calls that otherwise would have been missed.

How do we use phones today? Now they are called smartphones. First and foremost is mobility. Phones can go everywhere we go. They are no longer primarily used for phone calls. Here are a few of the uses we find for our smartphones these days: camera/video, text, calculator, calendar, voicemail, email, FAX, Internet access, phone book, GPS/maps, directions, personal assistant, alarm clock, news/reviews, read books, listen to music, watch movies, check the weather and play games. I’ve even seen a man ask his phone to tell him a joke about librarians. And it did!

Obviously there is a vast difference between phones of 40 years ago and phones today. Not unlike libraries. The library used to be a place where we went to find books. Period. Ok, maybe read the newspaper or a magazine. Libraries used to be places where we whispered and walked on tiptoe, where professors sent us and librarians intimidated us. Today’s libraries are more like busy community hubs where people meet for recreational, educational and social activities in addition to feeding their reading and/or media dragons.

Camp Verde library patrons have been showing us how they want to use their library. Use statistics show participation levels up in some key areas over the last fiscal year:

  • public Internet use – up 35% (does not include people using our wifi)
  • library programs and attendance – increased an average of over 183% and 343% respectively (does not include attendance at the Creator Faire)
  • total circulation – up 8% (before the beginning of Summer Reading Program!)
  • volunteer participation – 54% more volunteers giving 88% more hours to the library

Traffic counts show an increase of 12% over fiscal year 2013. Since we just installed a people counter and quit relying on ourselves to make a tic mark for each visitor we have discovered that we were underestimating the amount of traffic walking through our door. Averages using tic marks in May 2014 show 139 visitors per day, averages with the people counter for June so far show 239 visitors per day. So, the question is, why are 160-340+ people coming into the library daily? To attend programs, to volunteer, to use technolgy, to use our space, to socialize and more.

This is not the traditional way libraries have been used and it’s a far cry from where we will go in our new library. Books are still important, but not central much as making phone calls on our smartphones is important, by no means its primary use. Literacy involves a lot more than being well-read. It includes competencies in 21st Century Skills.

Libraries today are used as community centers, especially in small rural communities like Camp Verde where there are not many other options for safe, supervised activities, for neutral meeting spaces, for leisure/recreational use, to learn technology and support educational goals.

What are we doing that’s new for us and what are we seeing in a few other libraries around AZ?

New for us in the past 2 years:

  • Community outreach – SciTech Festival, Trick of Treat on Main, Creator Faire and other Town festivals, took library services to the VV Senior Apartments and a local daycare, and to Cottonwood for the annual Children’s Celebration
  • Early Literacy – Raising a Reader program, First Things First and Baby Brain Time
  • Focus what you Geek – Geek the Library campaign, Brown Bag Lunch programs
  • Exploring technology – lending e-readers & tablets, Teen Tech week, Teen game nights
  • TAB – Teen Advisory Board and attendant teen programming/participation
  • Dewey – our own bearded dragon

Other Libraries = opportunities/possibilities we are excited to bring to Camp Verde:

  • Public libraries partnering with community colleges/universities (Prescott Valley, South Mountain Community College, Alexandria Networks from ASU Skysong)
  • Space for entrepreneurs – makers & creators (Prescott Valley’s Digital Media Lab, Mesa’s THINKspot, the hive @ central Phoenix Library, Co-working spaces, ASU Skysong)
  • Support for economic & community development (Scottsdale’s Eureka Loft, Job and Career assistance, ASU’s Rapid Startup School)
  • Access to technology & telecommunications (Cottonwood’s Media Lab, Computer Training labs, 3D Printers and design, the LibraryBox Project)
  • Coffee chats/cafés (Cottonwood’s World Café, Prescott’s Skype with Authors)
  • Tutoring & School Zones (Chandlers Read to Succeed tutoring program, Prescott Valley’s afterschool tutoring for teens)
  • Public art displays (Sedona, Cottonwood, Prescott routinely hosts a variety of local shows)
  • Conservation and preservation opportunities (Monarch Waystation, butterfly/hummingbird garden, water conservation, night sky ordinance)

These represent the tip of the iceberg in offering 21st Century Skill building to our library patrons – leadership, digital literacy, emotional intelligence, global citizenship, problem solving and team-work, to name a few. I am excited about the potential for Camp Verde. Library services have gone about as far as we can go with what we have in our current location. It’s not that I am envious of what other libraries get to do, but jealous for Camp Verde because people here deserve to have these or similar opportunities in their own community. Good change full of good opportunity is coming. If we remain tethered to the wall in a world of mobile phones, we’ll find ourselves left further and further behind.


Leave a comment

Random Reviews in Random order from Random Readers:

We work in the library. We like to read. True. We do read. A lot! So… very short reviews that we hope will pique your interest. We’d love to have your short reviews to include next month. Just ask us!

THE SECRET SPEECH by Tom Rob Smith

Leo Demidov is a former KGB agent but is now a detective in a new, shaky department that investigates homicides. The problem is, if the State admits that homicides happen then the State and its citizens are imperfect and we can’t have that. Reading Child 44, the first book of this trilogy, will help you know the players in this book. Leo is an unlikely hero in an equally unlikely setting for a murder mystery. If you are a mystery fan who hasn’t worked the Soviet Union side of the mystery street you’re missing some really good stuff.

ARTEMIS FOWL THE GRAPHIC NOVEL Adapted by Eoin Colfer & Andrew Donkin

I gave this graphic novel a try and am still not a fan. What it did for me is, now I want to read the book. The story is about Artemis Fowl trapping Holly, a city elf. Holly has fairy powers to heal and Artemis captures some of the fairy’s technology. I’m sure that the book will go into more details which will make the story more interesting (at least for me). Graphic novel lovers will find this graphic novel fun to read.

THE BOOKSELLER OF KABUL by Asne Seierstad

In 2000, an award-winning journalist went to live with a man who owned a book store in Kabul, Afghanistan, intending to write a book about daily life there. Sultan Khan spent three decades trying to bring books to town through various repressive regimes.  His two wives, two mothers-in-law, multiple children, nieces and nephews occupy a four room apartment in a “middle-class” bombed out building with no hot water, 4 hours of electricity a night (sometimes), only floor cushions to sit, eat and sleep on.  The treatment of women is chronicled in story after story of life in a burka, never being allowed out of the house alone, never being allowed to work even though trained as teachers, families choosing husbands who are complete strangers for their daughters, etc.  The bookseller is an honorable and hard-working man who rules with an iron fist. In addition to the personal stories, the author covers some of the history of Afghanistan and its many rulers and allies. This book was published in 2002 to rave reviews. It would be interesting to revisit the family to see if anything has improved there since then.  From what we hear and read in the news, it doesn’t seem like it.  A fascinating read that might take you out of your comfort zone.

THE LAST TOWN ON EARTH by Thomas Mullen

This is a novel written about the 1918 flu epidemic that killed millions of people around the world. I was unaware of the epidemic and apparently it is not widely known. The novel tells the story of a town that quarantines itself from people coming in to avoid the flu. Very interesting and frightening. It did pique my curiosity so I also read another book, Flu, by Gina Kolata which explains the horror of this pandemic. Again very interesting and frightening!

THE GLASS RAINBOW by James Lee Burke

This is one of the best of the Dave Robicheaux novels.  It would be best to read the others before it, but it stands alone in its excellence. Any audiobook read by Will Patton makes it even better.

TWENTYNINE PALMS by Deanne Stillman

This is the strangest true crime book I have ever read. It follows the events surrounding the murder of two teen girls near the Marine Corps base at Twentynine Palms, California. I struggled through the book, perhaps because of the Marine element. I may have felt I needed to suffer the way I did in boot camp. Imagine Edward Abbey writing a true crime book and you have a sense of the feel I got from reading this one. It’s sort of like tequila and grape soda. While not a huge Abbey fan, I admire his talent for the descriptions of the desert and his obvious love for it. I am a fan of true crime but this book struggles to present the story of the crimes and their impact on all concerned. If you are tempted to read this book, stock up on tequila and grape soda. You may need them.

SUPERMAN VERSUS THE KU KLUX KLAN by Rick Bowers

This is a short book and a quick read that chronicles the history of the KKK and the Superman character and how and why they both battled for the soul of America. The book was written for young adults and gives them a taste of mid-twentieth century American history.  I enjoyed the book and I think it serves its purpose as an introduction to the topics.  I would recommend it for fun and as a start for historical research.


1 Comment

17,000 Square Feet for Books? Really?

Some of you are probably wondering why we need a 17,000 square foot library in Camp Verde. Do we really need that much room for books, magazines, movies, music and audiobooks? No, we don’t. Not for books, magazines, movies, music and audiobooks. And libraries, especially in rural communities like Camp Verde, are about a lot more than the stuff we keep on the shelves these days. Libraries are about people & space – space for people to access resources and technology otherwise unavailable to them, space where people can meet, relax, work, socialize, learn, and more.

Libraries are no longer the quiet places of our childhood. It’s unusual to meet a librarian who frowns disapprovingly while shushing you. And, as much as it may require a paradigm shift, people are what librarians care about most. Books, DVDs, computers – all that is just the stuff libraries have inside them for people to use. A book, magazine, movie or computer only has value when a person uses it. When people interact with the stuff in libraries or with one another there is noise. Some people are okay with the noise while others need a quiet space to think or work. The library we have designed has separate rooms for quiet study/concentration and other places where people can linger, talk and laugh.

Inside our 17,000 square foot building is about 5,100 square feet of space positioned strategically throughout the building where people can gather for library/community-sponsored events or for personal reasons. These dedicated spaces are in addition to the spaces scattered throughout the library where people will sit to enjoy the view, read a newspaper or just contemplate life. You will see a computer commons area where people can work together or individually on our PCs or their own mobile devices with easy access to help from library staff.

At Camp Verde we’ve noticed that many of our computer users come in pairs, one person helping another. Two people trying to use one computer is awkward in our current setup. It’s crowded and someone is usually in the way. So, we’ve designed space at our computer tables so two chairs can be pulled up to one computer. Granted, it takes more room to make this work right, but the space is designed for people, not people for the space.

A program room with kitchen facilities, theater-like equipment and access to restrooms on the first floor adjacent to the Children’s Library will be used for weekly story times, summer reading program activities, movies, special events and much more. This room can be closed off from the rest of the library to keep the noise contained and allow use of the space even when the library is closed. Directly above it on the 2nd floor is another large open area that can accommodate programming or a co-working space with access from the outdoor observatory. This is another large meeting space that can be closed off from the rest of the library for scheduled afterhours programming. Individual study rooms on both levels allow people who need quiet a place to find quiet. A Business/Conference room will double as a space where learning labs can accommodate students, computer training, guest presenters, etc. We have room for a co-working space that supports small businesses needs through access to training and educational resources at ASU Skysong. On the 2nd floor is room designed to double as CVLE’s used book sale and a creator space or place for discovering technology like, Lego Mindstorm and content creation opportunities. Another room will be available for book clubs, writer’s groups and many other uses for which people need space to meet. We’ve created space in the Children’s Library tucked back in a corner near the family restroom where people with babies/toddlers can visit, relax, and interact with each other and their kids. The Teen Library is designed with mobile shelving so the space can be used in a variety of ways, from leisure time to after school tutoring and college/work prep workshops, for starters.

There are other important features we want to duplicate while improving at the new library. People use our outdoor patio to plugin laptops and use free Wi-Fi even when the library is closed. Locals appreciate the shaded setting with flowers, plants and access to water for their dogs that often accompany them. Visitors appreciate the ease with which they can logon to our Wi-Fi. The outdoor patios designed for the new library protect entrances from sun and rain while adding more space for people to enjoy Camp Verde’s beautiful weather and views while accessing library resources. Some people are just outdoor people preferring to read or sit outside.

The Children’s Library includes a fenced outdoor patio right out the north door with an interactive space for children/families. The vision here is to provide a learning/play space that allows us to take our love for children and literacy right outside the library walls while keeping them in a safe space. Not all children are designed to sit inside. Rezzonico Park next door, the Verde River right here, and the addition of the observatory inspire many ideas about how to incorporate outdoor space into our children’s programs. From learning about the environment and water conservation to healthy living and community engagement opportunities for kids, we see inspiring children to love reading/learning going way beyond story time.

And, oh, yes! We have not lost sight of the fact that we are a library and many people still enter our doors looking for something to read, view or listen to. We will be adding approximately a third more shelving units throughout the library, concentrating expansion in areas where library materials are circulating the most like movies and a variety of materials for ages 0-17. New books and DVDs will be near the entrance for quick access. Self-help holds and self-checkout stations will allow people in a hurry to get what they need without waiting in line. A staffed welcome desk in the spacious lobby will accommodate people who like to visit with volunteers or librarians the space to do so without obstructing the entrance. More than anything else, Camp Verde’s new library is a designed with people in mind, because a library sitting empty is just as useless as a book sitting unread on a shelf. Our monthly traffic counts and circulation statistics show that Camp Verde people are using their library’s materials and space.

Lastly, respected library standards, such as Wisconsin Public Library Standards, for calculating space needs show a community the size of Camp Verde should already have a 17,000 square foot library in place. Plugging conservative numbers into the calculations worksheet and including space for people, PCs and programs puts us in a building slightly over 17,000 square feet. We are not only planning for growth but also playing catch-up in both space and technology. Camp Verde’s new library project, so thoughtfully designed by Architect, Joel Westervelt, has the built-in versatility that allows us to simultaneously catch-up to where we ought to be while allowing for future growth in a world of evolving library services.