Deadline Now: Clyde Scoles

Deadline Now: Clyde Scoles

Friday, July 5, 2013

Clyde Scoles, Director of the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library, joins host Jack Lessenberry to talk about how the library is adapting to new media and e-books, as well as the news that young people are using libraries almost as frequently as their parents.

On the web:

Here are Jack Lessenberry's Final Thoughts for this edition of "Deadline Now:"

Everybody has some disadvantages in life. One of mine is that I don’t live in the Toledo-Lucas County circulation area. So I willingly pay seventy five dollars a year for a library card.  Now, there are very good libraries where I live in Michigan. But I am down here a lot.

I have found some books and books on tape – really CDs – here that I haven’t found elsewhere. I grew up largely in libraries.

As a child, I met some very famous people in my local library, from Abraham Lincoln to Carl Sandburg to Karl Marx. To a great extent, they provided my education as much as any teacher did.

Libraries didn’t have books on tape then, just paper, and I had or made time to read them. These days, I’ve been worried about libraries for a number of reasons.  I teach college students who say things to me like, “Wow. I guess when you were young, you had to look things up in books.” When I tell them I still do, they mostly just stare.

And when I need or want a book, including an old one, I find myself too often clicking the keys and ordering one from Amazon.

Well, my heart was lifted last week by a little story in The Blade about a study from the highly respected Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project. It found that Americans in their twenties are just as likely as people my age to have visited a public library in the last year. And they aren’t doing it just to use the computers.

They were also equally as likely to have taken out books or browsed the shelves. Of course, they do use computers – they use them much more intensively than people my age do.

And while they are less likely to have asked for help from a librarian, that may be because they are better at finding material online than we used to be with a card catalog. One research analyst involved with the project said that the findings show that young Americans don’t see the library very differently from the way older ones do.

Both generations think libraries should have books, librarians and quiet spaces. When I read that, I thought to myself, well, whaddya know. Maybe there really is hope for the future.