La Jolla Library Sets Up Biotech Lab

Photo courtesy of www.sandiegouniontribune.com
Photo courtesy of http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com

With the rapid changes happening in the literary world, everyone is scrambling to keep up. Libraries, as a public service, want to remain relevant in an increasingly digital age. According to the American Library Association, many libraries offer services such as digital literacy training and assistance with the usage of online government programs.

However, some libraries are thinking a little more out-of-the-box. The La Jolla branch of the San Diego public library has started the first biotech laboratory in a library, called Life Science Collaboratory.

According to the La Jolla branch website, “Qualified volunteers from local biotechnology firms, research institutions and DIY bio-enthusiasts are supplying programs to educate the public about the Life Sciences and encourage civic debate and interest in this revolutionary field.”

This program is part of the library’s Innovation Space, a program that includes 3D-printers, centrifuges, and a DNA analyzing and sequencing tool.

One need not be afraid of picking up any pathogens either. The lab is only a level 1 Biosafety lab, and according to library manager Shaun Briley on The Washington Post’s website, “The chemicals in the cleaning closet are more dangerous.”

Additionally, the lab is only in use when a qualified volunteer is present.

Briley hopes that other libraries will follow this example, not necessarily in Biotech, but in whatever fields happen to be of interest in their local area. “Every community has some focus, something they do in particular, and here it just happens to be biotech,” he said.

The statement the La Jolla branch makes on their site is that, “An enduring tenet of libraries is that an informed public with free and open access to information is a cornerstone of democracy.  Our mission is to inspire lifelong learning, be technology facilitators and guides to the future.”

We can safely assume they are doing just that.

Advertisements

Wales Library Merge

By: Abigail Yeager

As stated on thebookseller.com, the library system in Wales is moving to a single library card that will work at all of their branches. This comes after the decision in January 2014 by Staffordshire County Council to close nearly half of the libraries in Wales.

The decision was made to save an estimated £1.3m, due to decreasing library visits. The new move to a single library card will allow library users to access the materials of any library in the system, saving an estimated 70% for local libraries.

Wales is hardly the first country to try this system out. In 2012, three London boroughs combined their access to save money, presumably in the cost of acquiring new materials, and residents could then request items from any of the 21 libraries in the system.

America has also made moves toward this type of library system, although those systems are still broken up by state; in Maryland, counties are merging their library systems to grant increasing access to users throughout the state.

Formerly, one would need a separate library card, registered to the appropriate county for each library system. Currently, library cards from both Washington and Frederick counties can be used in either system.

In this increasingly digital age, this seems to be one response to the sharing of physical forms of information. With library usage down, it will spread the cost of acquiring new materials through multiple libraries while merging potential library users into one market.

In Wales, it is also hoped that this new system will encourage more people to sign up for library cards, something that can only be helped by the media attention on this change.

The merge has started with the six north Wales authorities and is expected to adopted throughout Wales sometime in 2016.