April 24, 2014

Alaska: Anchorage Library System Tries to Keep Pace with Changing Technology and Crumbling Flagship Building

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From the Alaska Dispatch:

The budget for Anchorage’s library system is declining. In 2012, it was $7.2 million, the lowest annual budget since 2006. But costs — for everything from labor to heating and operating expenses — are going up.

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To offset the budget crunch, library hours were reduced across the Anchorage system in 2009. Despite the decreases in availability and access, library use is going up — at about 2 percent per year. The areas seeing the highest increase in use all involve new technology — technology that was not in place when the city’s main branch, the Z.J. Loussac Library, opened in 1986.

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As the managers of the Anchorage library system look toward its future, one thing is clear: the city’s libraries must adapt to changing technology, and changing needs. E-books are the fastest growing part of the library system’s circulation. Computers are among its most-used equipment. Anchorage’s libraries currently have 84 public-access computers — hundreds fewer than other cities of the same size. But technology is expensive, especially when installed inside buildings that weren’t built to handle it.

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Gary Price About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.