Baltimore County Now
Marketing & Development Manager
Baltimore County Public Library
The holiday season is fast approaching, and you're most likely in full swing with your holiday shopping. As you think about the perfect gift, a book often seems to be the best alternative, especially for those folks who already have it all. This year, the Baltimore County Public Library has created a list of favorites for everyone on your gift list.
Whether you need a book for a film buff, a romance lover or a teen reader, we have some great suggestions. Check out our hot titles gift guide on the BCPL website or watch our gift guide video featuring BCPL librarians on our YouTube channel. Both have some wonderful suggestions to make gift giving a cinch this holiday season, leaving you with more time for decking the halls and enjoying the merriment. Happy Holidays from your friends at the Baltimore County Public Library!
Baltimore County Public Library
For most of us, the library represents fond memories as a child. Whether it was getting your first library card, checking out stacks of children's books or listening intently to every word from the storyteller, the library was a special place that made us feel special, too! As we grew older, the library evolved along with us. During those tumultuous teenage years, the library was a refuge from our parents, a place to meet friends and to get homework assignments accomplished while giving us a sense of independence in a comfortable environment. As adults, we continued visiting the library for beach reads, to rent weekend DVDs and then eventually with our own children to relive our childhood memories and to begin making new ones. For many of us, the library shaped or changed our lives in one way or another.
National Library Week kicks off this Sunday, April 13, and continues through April 19. The theme for this year's celebration is "Lives Change @ Your Library." As part of the weeklong celebration, the Baltimore County Public Library (BCPL) is hosting a Facebook contest for folks to submit a photo and a caption that highlights how the library has changed his or her life. The selected top five entries will have their photos and captions up in lights on BCPL's electronic sign in Towson, and one lucky winner will receive a $100 VISA gift card. The contest runs through April 30, and all the details can be found on BCPL's Facebook page.
In addition to the Facebook contest, all of BCPL's 18 branches are celebrating with special events and giveaways throughout National Library Week. Please note the Parkville branch is currently closed through June for renovation. So, what are you waiting for? Come visit BCPL to make memories and discover how lives change @ your library. Don't forget to capture a photo or two for our Facebook page. For more information, please visit our website.
Rob Stradling, Director
Baltimore County Office of Information Technology
Baltimore County Public Library (BCPL) Director Jim Fish has good reason to boast about their circulation numbers, which show that BCPL continues to be one of the best and busiest library systems in the country and is being used by more people for more reasons than ever before. In 2012, BCPL checked out a whopping 10.7 million pieces of material and serviced 5.5 million walk-in customers in its 19 branches and 4 bookmobiles. Most of us see traditional libraries as buildings filled with books, music and movies, but if you pay a visit to your local branch, you’ll see how the traditional public library is changing. For example, did you know that in 2012, BCPL also had more than 5 million hits on its website, provided computer access to over 1.1 million citizens through the use of its public PCs and Wi-Fi network, and circulated more than 226,000 electronic books?
Today, libraries, including BCPL, depend on their ability to adapt to the needs of the community, with technology fueling much of that adaptability. The typical library customer is changing, too. In addition to countless shelves of traditional printed materials, Baltimore County residents will soon have reliable high-speed access to the digital world, when the County installs a broadband fiber-optic network (BCON) to connect various County buildings, including the Library and its branches. The County will begin by connecting BCPL Administrative Offices and 10 branches, with the cost savings increasing as the remaining branches are connected to BCON.
To satisfy customer demand and take advantage of technology, I worked with BCPL Director Jim Fish to conduct a Business Process Analysis (BPA) of the Library’s technology function to improve service delivery, streamline workflows and reduce redundancies. The BPA identified several major areas in which BCPL and the Office of Information Technology (OIT) were duplicating efforts, resources and contracts. Consolidation in these areas will save significant taxpayer dollars — more than $143,000 annually.
Overall, the measures identified in the BPA will save the Library nearly $500,000 by the end of FY15. Even more importantly, these projects lay the foundation for OIT and BCPL to work together to continue to uncover more innovative ways to deliver improved services at lower costs. Additionally, County Executive Kevin Kamenetz intends to fund the Library Equipment Refresher Projects to the tune of $1 million, which will replace the Library’s technology equipment when it has reached the end of its useful life.
Future innovations will include many similar technology projects. Continually seeking and exploiting the combined resources of OIT and the Library’s Technical Support functions will reinforce the existing partnership between OIT and BCPL. Over time, that spirit of cooperation and unity will reward the citizens of Baltimore County with a library that still includes those bookshelves, but one that also lives on the forefront of technology.