Future of US Libraries

The Future of US Libraries in a Peak-Oil World

Posted on 10 November 2010 – From Colorado Libraries

Colorado Writes

Libraries in the United States are currently facing cutbacks at the same time dealing with increased usage, resulting from economic hard times. When citizen patrons are in desperate need of information to deal with dramatic changes in their lives, they turn to libraries for the latest news to deal with these challenges.

One issue related to our economic down turn is Peak Oil. It simply means we have reached the point where we have used 50% of the known oil and that demand is increasing while supply is not. Peak Oil should never be confused with oil depletion. We will have oil for many years to come, but it’s going to become much more expensive and more scarce.

So much of the oil we use is based on societal pressures, this is especially true for our personal transportation system in the use of a motor vehicles. What will happen to our personal transportation issues of getting to work, school and the library when this activity becomes too expensive? Many citizens will have less energy to use at home and will turn to their local libraries to use Internet service and other potential costly activities.

During Peak Oil hard times, like current economic hard times only means budgets for libraries will decrease, meaning less staff and services. This will be especially true for rural public and college libraries, which currently struggle with these issues. Library hours might have to be reduced with less staffing and operating funds and the possibility of increased patrons’ usage; libraries will be stretched to their limits even more than now.

Other services that could become much more expensive could be Interlibrary loans (ILL), which relies on a courier service. With fuel costs rising, many libraries may have to limit the amount of ILLs they can receive and some smaller libraries may cancel these services. Fortunately, with the advancement in online services, ILL’s might be delivered in the form of E-books, which patrons can read online within a specified time limit.

Another valuable service for rural public libraries that may become too expensive is that of the bookmobile. With high transposition costs, many alternative energy sources will be needed to run the bookmobiles from electric-solar cell technology, vegetable oil powered engines and even possibly horse driven bookmobiles.

Operational cost of lighting and heating libraries could be a challenge as well. For lighting some of these solutions are solar panel, passive solar windows, sky-lighting, and even lanterns. For heating, fireplaces, geothermal and solar power batteries to run the furnace and to run the air-conditioning. Library staff will still use energy to run library computers, photocopies, and fax machines but solar technologies even wind turbines could be used.

Another cost issue for libraries will be maintained and developing the collection. The cost for printing books will increase and paperback books, which are disposable, are a waste of paper. Hard backs which cost more will last longer and may be a better investment. Repairing books will be more of an option and fewer books will be thrown in the trash, even if they can’t be sold in the book sale.

One possible solution is the increase in volunteerism from patrons. It’s possible some of these libraries will return to the practice of existing without librarians and must rely on others in the community to give time to the library. It’s also possible that private community subscription libraries will blossom out of someone’s house and grow from other private collections. City library systems may need to develop more and smaller community branch libraries to become more accessible to walking and bike paths, and public transportation.

These new branch libraries like rural libraries will play an even more important role as a community center as the heart and soul of the community. Overall, citizens might appreciate their libraries not only a source of information in turbulent times, but also a way to reconnect to local communities like never before.


Posted in General | Leave a comment



 As a result of President Obama’s immigration speech last week, libraries may be receiving more questions about contacting Immigration Services.

Please take a moment to make note of, bookmark, or post these sources for information:

USCIS Nebraska Field Office: Omaha (Website)


USCIS 1717 Avenue H Omaha, NE 68110


USCIS National Customer Service Center (Website)


1 (800) 375-5283 1 (800) 767-1833 (TTY)



Posted in General | Leave a comment

Panhandle Library System name change

As of January 1st 2015, the Panhandle Library System will be renamed the Western Library System. This will include the addition of the seven counties of Hooker, McPherson, Chase, Dundy. Hitchcock, Hays and Perkins. The PLS office and Board voted for the change in the November 4th Board meeting. The name change is in part to make the new counties feel well welcome to the system in the new reconfiguration of the library systems for the state.

In addition, the Panhandle Sun Newsletter will be renamed the Western Sun, as of the January – February 2015 addition .

Posted in General | Leave a comment

New PLS webpage site

Welcome to the ‘new’ site for the PLS webpage. It is now being housed by the NLC. There will be updates and corrections soon to this site, but please be patient. The PLS office staff will be working on cleaning it up ASAP. If you have changes to your library information you need to include, please send me an email at eric.green@nebraska.gov.

Posted in General | Leave a comment

CE Workshops 2015


2015 2015
1/5 – 1/16 Customer Service* 11/28/14 – 12/23/14
1/26 – 2/6 Communication* 12/19/14 – 1/16
2/23 – 3/6 Reference 1/16 – 2/13
3/9 – 3/20 Intellectual Freedom and the Core Values of Librarianship* 1/30 – 2/27
3/23 – 4/3 Readers’ Advisory 2/13 – 3/13
4/6 – 4/17 Library Governance 2/27 – 3/27
4/27 – 5/22 Organization of Materials* 3/20 – 4/17
6/1 – 6/12 Library Finance 4/23 – 5/22
6/15 – 6/26 Library Technology 5/8 – 6/5
7/20 – 7/31 Collection Management* 6/12 – 7/10
8/24 – 9/4 Library Policy 7/17 – 8/14
9/14 – 9/25 Programming & Outreach 8/7 – 9/4
9/28 – 10/9 The Community and the Library* 8/21 – 9/18
10/19 – 10/30 Management and Supervision 9/11 – 10/9
11/2 – 11/13 Leadership 9/25 – 10/23
11/30 – 12/11 Library Service to Children & Youth 10/23 – 11/20

(* Requisite class)

For further information, contact Laura Johnson, Continuing Education Coordinator by Laura.Johson@nebraska.gov  or by phone, at 402-471-2694, or 800-307-2665.

Posted in General | Leave a comment

Library Statistics

From the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project


Posted in General | Leave a comment

C.E. Grants Now Available from the Nebraska Library Commission

The Continuing Education and Training Grants are now available.  As they were last year, the grants are offered in three categories

  • Funding to attend a professional conference up to $2000
  • Funding to pay to take an online course
  • Funding for a project

Details, application forms and dates are available on the 2013 Continuing Education and Training Grants webpage.

For more information, please contact Laura Johnson, Continuing Education Coordinator, at 800-307-2665 or laura.johnson@nebraska.gov.

Posted in Grant & Scholarship Opportunities | Leave a comment