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Floors being built into Beach Library addition

May 16, 2012
By Dr. Leroy Hommerding , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

Weekly Activities

Preschool Story Hour starts at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, May 16.

Knitting Group meets Wed at 6:30 p.m.

Going Further with Your IPad on Tuesday, May 22, at 10:30 a.m.

Activity Details

Those knitting and crocheting can join with fellow artisans on May 16.

Upcoming Activity

Tissue Paper Art session on May 24, at 10:30 a.m. No previous art experience or skill necessary. Music, watercolor, markers and learning design techniques are part of this relaxed atmosphere time. Pre-register and $2 materials fee.


Libraries provide many things, from the personalized research help from trained professionals to programs for the public and a place for minds and souls to grow. Even with the Internet and bookstores, libraries are still thriving and are being used more than ever before. Libraries survived the fires at Alexandria, flourished with the help of Carnegie, and now revel in the age of technology. Librarianship, the fuel for public libraries, thrives on information, preservation, and circulation of knowledge to all.

Open Access

Libraries are working diligently to keep up with, and push ahead of, society trends. If we hold onto nostalgic notions of what libraries once were, we limit them to relics of a time gone by. However, if we support libraries through their evolutionary process, they remain vital community resources and hubs; unwavering providers of information to all, whatever form that information may take.

"Public libraries are so important in our communities because they're open access to unfettered information of all kinds," to quote Molly Raphael, current President of the American Library Association. "An informed citizenry is what makes a democracy work. When so much of our economy is driven by information, libraries level the playing field and provide open access to knowledge in its broadest sense.

People who talk about libraries dying out are the ones who remember the libraries of their childhood. But the library of today is not the library of our childhood, and the library that child see today is not the library we'll see in 20 years." The State of America's Libraries report for 2011 notes that library visitation and circulation have both increased in the past 10 years.

Encyclopaedia Britannica

The announcement from Britannica that its encyclopedia will not be available in print when the current run of bound, print copies have been sold prompts one to review its distinguished history.

The first three-volume set was published between 1768 and 1771 in Edinburgh. That famous set was reproduced in 1968 to commemorate the bicentennial of its release. The success of Britannica is shown as the three-volume set quickly expanded to 10 volumes within a decade, and by the 1820s it was a 20-volume set. By the 1890s, an index was added to make the work more useful. An American partnership purchased the rights in 1901, bringing it to the United States for the first time. In 1920, the rights were sold to Sears Roebuck & Co, and sets appeared in many American homes.

Britannica introduced "continuous revision" in 1936 with every article updated twice in every decade. In 1974, Britannica introduced a new 30 vol. format with a Micropaedia, Macropaedia, and Propaedia depending on the size of articles. This new format continued for a decade and in 1985 a two-volume index was introduced and the separated articles merged back together. This 1985 format updated in 2010 is the last (for now). We have moved from an information source with massive editing and contribution development, to an era of electronic bites of information developed by a generally unknown population. I appreciate the history and the quiet recognition that often what seems to change has a way of coming back again, so we shall see.


Crews continue busy. Walls are underway and the first floors are going into place. We are still a month or more away from ceiling material arriving. It is exciting to see the progress.

The Future

In 1900, it was predicted that public libraries would go away with the addition of indexes to most nonfiction books. People could find their own information using an index.

By the 1920s, dime novels had invaded America, published in cheap pasteboard covers, and no one would use a public library. We smiled this week when we added one of these cheap novels (it said 35 cents on the cover) because the work is hard to come by.

The Great Depression of the 1930s brought throngs of new library users, and public libraries began offering "new" services to the new users, who never went away when the economy got better.

...the timeline continues next week.

And that is today's public library, the same book and information, just wrapped in a new cover.

Library Hours

Don't remember library hours? When we are closed, a recorder gives the hours on 765-8163. Except for holidays, we are open Monday and Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Tuesday, Thursday and Friday 9 to 5, and Saturday 9-1. We look forward to seeing you.



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