Colorado Libraries in the 2010s: Online Presence is Library’s E-Branch

This post was written by Sharon Morris, Director of Library Development for the Colorado State Library.

Throughout January 2020, we will be taking a look back at the 10s and Teens in Colorado libraries. Our series continues today with Online Presense.

Online Presence is Library’s E-Branch

  • With societal increases in mobile technology and social media, more libraries were online in new ways. The Library Research Service report Trends in Colorado Public Library Websites and Social Media Use illuminates the trends, including increases in mobile-friendly access, much in the rural areas is thanks to the Colorado State Library’s CoLibraries website platform.
  • As people are streaming and downloading more media online, so too are libraries offering services such as ebooks, audio books, emagazines, movies, and more. From the library website, these services are available with a library card and so people can “visit” the e-branch of the library to check out items without ever coming to the physical library. While the options have grown over the years, libraries are not seeing the exponential use of content companies such as Amazon, Netflix, and Apple. It seems a key ingredient to success if for libraries to provide the public with quick access to dynamic and new materials in seconds. Libraries will need to both make using these electronic services fast and easy as well as step up promotion of these treasures so that more of the public is using them.
  • A third aspect of the online library is local content. This past decade, several libraries have digitized local collections of documents, audio, video, and images. With the advent of the Digital Public Library of America, the Colorado Virtual Library launched a digital hub, Plains to Peaks Collective for libraries to add materials to the national platform while also making items available locally, and created the CVL-Collections program to help libraries and cultural heritage organizations create and maintain a content management system to store digital collections. This role of libraries to collect the local treasures and make them more accessible to the world is a trend that is likely to continue well into the new decade. Library schools are seeing more demand for archiving and other expertise from a new generation of librarians.
  • Academic libraries are working closely with their faculty and students to build scholarly collections that are more affordable, relevant, and dynamic. Recent funding for the Open Education Resources in Colorado allows for Colorado Higher Education institutions to add content for students while working closely with faculty. While this is an emerging trend in college and university libraries, local collections, textbooks, and other faculty and student research and learning resources are a future areas worth watching.