by Stacey Embry,
Morgan County Library
Slip Slidin’ Away
“We work our jobs. Collect our pay. Believe we’re gliding down the highway. When in fact we’re slip slidin’ away.
Slip slidin’ away. Slip slidin’ away. You know the nearer your destination. The more you’re slip slidin’ away.”
I feel you, Paul Simon; in fact, I think the whole world does. I envision myself as Bambi when he encounters his first snow and “stiff water.” Go ahead, pull out your VHS, DVD or — counter to what I will be writing — just Google it.
I feel like Bambi, hopping through the snow, and then hitting a deep spot; or when he investigates the snow falling off the tree and is buried; better yet, when Thumper encourages him to join him on the ice. In this last scenario, Thumper is Jeff Bezos. Yep, still not a fan, but Thumper doesn’t deserve that hate, at least he tries to help Bambi.
If you have not figured it out the part of snow and ice is played by COVID. I know you do not want to believe it, but 2020 and COVID, is still affecting our world.
As we are approaching 2022 budget planning time, I have started running stats. I use stats about collection usage to determine where the money should go; high circulation means a high return on the investment, low circulation not only means a poor return, but also draws attention to potential issues. Video checkout has always been a high circulation item. Seriously, we have movies that circulate in the 100s, 200s, even 300s, our most checked-out book is 170.
I ran reports back through 2016 and, until 2020, we averaged more than 20,000 video checkouts per year. In 2020, that number was half; maybe because the world shut down for a few months, you would think, but, no, we are on track for low numbers again this year.
This is a red flag, a potential issue. Not only does this demand a drop of the video budget for the first time in “forever,” I want to know if there is a pickup going on somewhere else. For example, adult physical audio checkout has dropped significantly, but there has been a pickup of checkout for digital audiobooks.
After some research, I have determined there has been no pickup elsewhere. What happened? Netflix, Apple TV, Hulu, insert any online streaming service. This is when I feel the slip slidin’ away. We cannot compete, even with Hoopla, online streaming wins and the library loses.
Move over, Thumper, I am entering the rabbit hole. I start questioning the future of the library, not just ours, but all libraries. Do I think we are dying, nope, librarians will not let that happen, we just keep adjusting. We become Thumper, pushing Bambi up on the ice, anything we can do to keep Bambi/the library going. But, yes, I am still in that hole, worrying about our future readers, are they still being made, will they fill the shoes of the previous readers, or will TikTok, Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, all the entertainment resources take them from us?
Adding to these thoughts, I am currently reading “The Circle” by Dave Eggers. “The Circle” is a story about a MONSTER tech company, such as Google or Facebook; all the things that have seemed to take over humanity.
Yep, that might be driving me further down the hole, but I just had to read it in preparation for his new novel, “The Every.” This time, he will be discussing monopolies, like Amazon, and their effect on the world. I don’t think he cares much for Jeff either. The best part of his new release, the hardcover will be released six weeks before the eBook or paperback are available and can only be purchased at independent bookstores. Way to go, Mr. Eggers.
It is so difficult to find our footing in this world we live in, our economy is still unstable, tech is hard to avoid, TikTok is entertaining, but like Eggers, we need to take a stand. That screen is easy to give to your child, Amazon is so easy to shop from, and boredom rarely exists with 30-second videos available 24/7/365.
“You know how you finish a bag of chips and you hate yourself? You know you’ve done nothing good for yourself. That’s the same feeling, and you know it is, after some digital binge. You feel wasted and hollow and diminished.”
– Dave Eggers, The Circle
We deserve better, yep, all of us. I am going to move most of the video money to books and I promise you I will be pushing them hard, I will “Bezos” the crud out of them.
Upcoming Events: 10/20 Story Time 10 a.m.; 10/25 MOCO Support Group 6:30 p.m. Adult Reading Challenge has been extended, added to, and now runs through Nov. 30. Swing by the library for more information.
For more information, visit the Morgan County Library at 600 N. Hunter, call 573-378-5319 or see the library’s website at morgancountylibrary.org. Library hours are 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday.