BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Spencer Watts, director of the East Baton Rouge Library System spoke at Baton Rouge Press Club Monday.
The library system this year is celebrating its 75 anniversary, even as the landscaping and outer buildings of the new parish main library are still being completed.
As construction crews continue to work on an Internet Café, and outdoor theater, and giant chessboard; a spacious parking lot is going down right on the spot where the former parish main library stood.
Watts said contrary to national stories of how libraries as a whole are "dying," he says the opposite is true in Baton Rouge. This year, EBR's Library received a "Star Library" designation from Library Journal for the second consecutive year. That puts EBR in the top three percent of all public libraries in the country.
Watts says right now, the libraries website is performing admirably, and we can celebrate the 1.98 million web visits a year. He says the library has online catalogs for checking out for books, magazines and music. Watts says in this anniversary year, they're introducing a special card that they'll be able to give schools that's like a library card for online, and will allow children who want to access the libraries collections to be able to do so from school without having to convince their parents to get a library card.
The library is all about access for all. "They can come to use and find the technology that they do not have at home," Watts says, the access for information that they could not have otherwise. "We're also a place that often helps introduce new technologies..that can help you, I can tell you right now, when people upgrade to their new Kindle, we can help them."
Watts says the library will also introduce a Culture Card that links the library with other cultural organizations in the city, "We want people thinking of the library as a place where culture is preserved and treasured."
In emphasizing again the 75 anniversary, Watts had some fun statistics:
- In 1939, EBR Library had 2,200 items. Now the Library has almost 2 million.
- At the start, there were 306 cardholders. Now there are 340,000.
- When they started, the top book being checked out was "Gone With the Wind."
- Right now, it is the young adult hit "The Fault In Our Stars"
Watts says people should view their library as a good place to hold meetings, do homework, type up resumes, print out prototypes, join clubs. It's a legacy library with a great future.