Visitors still enjoy a real book at the library


The city’s library chief has an iPad — and she likes using it.

There. It’s out.

But Ottawa Public Library CEO Danielle McDonald is predicting physical books will continue holding ground over electronic devices, thanks to one important factor: Learning.

That is, she says, what makes brick-and-mortar libraries so important.

“To me, if people can read, they can do so much,” said McDonald.

“They say economies are built on educated people.”

Indeed, library patrons — 4.9 million of them in 2012 — aren’t there just to turn pages.

Some users are taking part in classes, seminars and other interactive programming. Others are borrowing CDs and DVDs — which make up about 20% of the public library inventory. Downloadable items accounted for 1.4% of the collection in 2012.

E-books are “a trend that’s just growing,” said McDonald.

The main branch, at Laurier Ave. W. and Metcalfe St., averaged 14,521 visitors per week 2012.

“Generally speaking, I think we’re still a popular place to visit,” said McDonald.

There’s something authentic about entering a branch and engaging with staff.

Regardless of the medium, patrons “love it when you connect them to a book,” she said.

McDonald, too, was on the receiving end of such joy.

A product of the city’s south end, “I didn’t have a library growing up,” said McDonald,

A Bookmobile served her family; Sunnyside was the closest branch, and for high school projects, she’d venture to the main branch.

“I’ve always had a book in my life,” said McDonald, noting books bring her “great comfort.”

Libraries must continue adapting as technology evolves, she agrees, and in this sense, bridging the digital divide is paramount.

“I think we have to keep connecting with our customers,” said McDonald.

“It’s about being current and offering as much as we can, really, to encourage literacy.”

The Imagine campaign, running from May 15 to June 15, is playing a primary role in OPL’s growth.

Participants can enter to win an iPad after offering feedback on what the library should keep doing, start doing, and discontinue.

Will there ever be a library without physical books?

“Not in my lifetime,” said McDonald.

“I think that’s going to take a lot longer than you think.”

Twitter: @ottawasunkroche

1. 419, Will Ferguson
2. The Casual Vacancy, J. K. Rowling
3. The Racketeer, John Grisham
4. Wedding Night, Sophie Kinsella
5. Life After Life, Kate Atkinson
6. The Imposter Bride, Nancy Richler
7. And the Mountains Echoed, Khaled Hosseini
8. The Headmaster’s Wager, Vincent Lam
9. The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window And Disappeared, Jonas Jonasson
10. Suspect, Robert Crais

1. The Litigators, John Grisham
2. Fifty Shades Darker, E. L. James
3. Fifty Shades Freed, E. L. James
4. The Help, Kathryn Stockett
5. The Confession, John Grisham
6. A Game of Thrones, George R.R. Martin
7. The Virgin Cure, Ami McKay
8. Fifty Shades of Grey, E. L. James
9. Deep Down, Lee Child
10. Calico Joe, John Grisham

1. The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald
2. Wheat Belly, William Davis
3. The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins
4. Catching Fire, Suzanne Collins
5. A Beautiful Blue Death, Charles Finch
6.Fifty Shames of Earl Grey, Fanny Merkin
7. The Fullness of Time, 32 women on life after 50
8. The Painted Girls, Cathy Marie Buchanan
9. Did You Miss Me?, Karen Rose
10. Mockingjay, Suzanne Collins

1. Anne of Green Gables, L. M. Montgomery
2. A Discovery of Witches, Deborah E. Harkness
3. The Harry Bosch Novels, Michael Connelly
4. Innocent, Scott Turow
5. True Compass, Edward M. Kennedy
6. The Wealthy Barber, David Barr Chilton
7. A Thousand Splendid Suns, Khaled Hosseini
8. American Turnaround, Ed Whitacre
9. Conversations with Myself, Nelson Mandela
10. The Lake of Dreams, Kim Edwards

Format Titles Copies
Audiobooks 4,2136,007
eBooks 15,45129,685
*OPL has Freegal Music, giving customers access to millions of songs.

11,172,085 items borrowed
Fiction: 47%
DVD/CD: 27%
Non-fiction: 17%
Downloaded eBooks/Audiobook/Music: 6%
World languages: 3%

Learn about eReaders and how to download eBooks from OPL? Start your family tree? With a valid library card free tutorials (business, computers, jobs and careers) and settlement information for newcomers are offered in a one-on-one setting.

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