Derivative tends not be a compliment as it implies lack of creativity or more recently a bad financial instrument. But let’s be honest, many great ideas in all areas aren’t new (like bookmobiles) and libraries mostly work with the basics of those ideas and spin them to serve some niche. PPL like other libraries lends a variety of unexpected materials including telescopes (brought to us through our partnership with Cornerstones of Science), Kill a Watt energy detectors (given to us by a private donor),and most recently ukuleles modeled on the idea first demonstrated by the Newport (Maine) Cultural Center and neighboring Falmouth (Maine) Memorial Library.
Even Isaac Newton acknowledged the contributions to his work of those before him. It is a pleasure (and an ethical obligation) for us to acknowledge this tradition of public libraries.
The digital presence of PPL is one of the three “environments”, along with our physical facilities and soon to come bookmobile, which we need to master. Each environment has its own unique set of dynamics and user experiences. It is no secret that our current website is …. Well, to find the right word … packed. It is hard to navigate and, although there are plenty of great resources on the site, it doesn’t do a good job helping us serve our many different users.In the next two months, we will be finishing some projects that have been months in the making which will radically change our digital profile and how we will relate to our users. Several new platforms will be unveiled that will make it easier for us to connect with our users, expand library collections and make it easier to find information. In June our new website will be rolled out. We have been working with VONT, a local web marketing firm, for over a year to integrate social media, such as Facebook, more effectively within our site and to incorporate new tools, such as BiblioCommons.
BiblioCommons will provide a new library catalog experience, allowing users and staff to share lists of items and provide much better access to our collections. Finally this spring our digital collections will begin to utilize the Digital Commons platform. You will be able to use search engines to explore collections such as Maine News Index, Children’s Theater of Maine, Portland Press Herald Still Film Negatives, Maine Jewish Oral History Projects, Casco Bay Weekly and many more.
We are very grateful to the Sam L. Cohen Foundation for their support toward these projects.
In the spring of 2010, the Library publicly put forth its Portable Library concept. The effort included a number of elements but the basic idea was to transcend the physical locations of the library by going to where the people are working, living and recreating. The Portable Library Team includes, among other things, deposit collections at places like the METRO waiting room on Elm Street, coffee houses and a bookmobile.
The bookmobile, funded in part by support from Key Bank, will arrive in Portland sometime next week and will be on the road in April. It will bring books, programs, internet access, training and the ability to sign up for a library card to locations throughout Portland. Many folks have fond memories as children of PPL’s full scale bookmobile from 1972 to 1994.