In honor of National Library Week, Patch sat down for an interview with Chang Liu, Director of the Loudoun County Public Libraries, to find out the latest news and developments within the library system.
Patch: What are some of the new technologies you are using?
Chang Liu: We are in the process of rolling out an "Espresso Book Machine" at Rust Library in Leesburg as part of the Symington Trust.
The Espresso Book Machine is a print on demand machine that prints, collates and binds a book in minutes.
There is a database of millions of out-of-print books. Patrons can look for a book and print it out on the spot with a nominal fee.
In addition, it is possible to write a book and work with the library staff to format it and print it out on the espresso machine.
The library is in the final stages of preparing for the machine to arrive and is waiting for delivery very soon.
Another popular new item at the libary is the use of e-books and e-readers. We have been doing a lot of customer training and teaching people how to download a book using e-reader kits.
In addition, the library recently rolled out a Freegal Music service, which offers three million songs. Customers can download up to three songs a week for free using their library card. The songs are for patrons to keep on any device.
Even with these new services, our bread and butter remains books and the joy of reading. We have added 90,000 items to Gum Spring Library.
Patch: How are things going at the newly opened Gum Springs Library?
Chang Liu: Gum Spring Library opened in Stone Ridge Feb. 23. It has already been a big asset to the community. On the opening day, they had 6,500 people come in the doors in six hours and signed up 1,400 new library cards.
The library is working as a community partner with local events such as "Loudoun Health for Life Day", as well as author book signing events, story times, as well as children's programs centered around STEM, trying to teach serious concepts in a fun way.
Despite the fact that Gum Spring opened, we have not seen a drop in use at Ashburn Library; it has not slowed down at all.
The former head of Ashburn Library, Heather Ketron, is now the head of children's services at Gum Spring. She has just received an award from the American Library Association for Outstanding Children's Librarian.
Patch: What are some of the key programs the library is planning?
Chang Liu: The library is gearing up for the childrens and teens summer reading program. Last year, there were 44,000 participants. We help the schools keep the children learning during the summer months, and hope to be an extension of the educational process and an educator for the community.
The library promotes life-long learning for adults changing jobs, providing internet access, learning new skills and more. The staff helps people with their job search, resume writing and online applications.
The library's fundamental ethics is that we try to help the community as much as we can. There is no fee, we welcome any questions people ask and it is our job to answer any questions.
We also have special events highlighting programs such as "Women's History Month" or "Women in Loudoun."
We have invited Northern Virginia Community College professors and experts who present more serious and highly educational topics at the library.
It is important for us to make the library a community gathering place.
Patch: Are any of the libraries planning future expansion?
Chang Liu: Middleburg Library recently announced they have raised the funds necessary, through a volunteer citizens group, to double their size.
It is an inspiring and heartwarming story about a community who truly supports their local library.
Patch: Any other thoughts?
We hope we are a great asset to the community. We have a lot of best practices and many other libraries around the country come to us asking for advice on how we work, they are very impressed with our organization.