RPL – Digital Future

Yesterday, I went to a talk by Patricia Uttaro at the Rochester Public Library (RPL). She is the Director of the Rochester Public Library and Monroe County Library System and she was talking about expanding their Digital Library. A Digital Library is a concept that will always be in flux as technology changes but it collects, manages and preserves digital content.

Some sources that RPL will expand are their collection of e-books, videos and audios. Some local corporate statements which were at one time sent to RPL in paper are now only available in electronic form. RPL sees the need to retain copies for the future. There is a need add more reference databases to the current RPL collection. RPL has seen their demand for e-books triple each year for the last three years. RPL wants to make more e-books available through their relation with a company named Overdrive. Also, because not everyone will fully embrace all things digital, RPL is investigating purchasing an Espresso Book Machine that would allow you print a copy of e-books on demand.

Managing a digital collection is difficult because of the changing face of digital collections. The key is to organize collections into manageable chunks. This website from the Library of Congress has given RPL help in managing their digital collection.

The RPL plan is to add a Digital Services Management position. They also want to create a single front end search to all digital collections rather than have to search each collection separately. The current on-line library catalog will be updated with a mobile app. in late spring.

As far as preserving is concerned, RPL has to ensure access to information born digital; AKA newspapers, annual reports, gov. info. They also want to preserve more historical information and books that are rare or in fragile condition.

Ms. Uttaro also noted that the bad economy has sent more people to libraries for computer access that they don’t have at home. So library use is expanding. It isn’t going to be easy to obtain funding  as governments are cutting funding to libraries when RPL needs more money to expand their digital collections.

For more information see; “The Next 100 Years” and “Public Libraries in the Digital Era”  by Bruce Holton.