(Fargo, ND) -- Fargo Public Library Director Timothy Dirks spoke with WDAY Radio to share details on their primary purpose, services they provide to the F-M area, and plans for the library's future.
Book Rentals and Physical Items
The library houses thousands of copies of high-demand physical books. Dirks says all three locations are "popular materials" libraries, meaning they contain literature that is commonly sought instead of academic works that are often contained within university libraries. The idea of the library containing popular materials is slowly transitioning into an idea he calls "the library of things", where residents can check out items, not just paperbound books, that are commonly requested within a community.
"The traditional aspects of a library is the collections, it's the books, the physical items," said Dirk, "I think the idea of what we have in terms of physical items has changed...We circulate board games, both children's and adult board games, we have a puzzle exchange which has been very popular. Talk about change, we have portable WIFI hotspots that we circulate."
Dirks does push back against the definition of a "library of things" fully applying to the libraries in Fargo, saying those locations hold dozens if not hundreds of items that can be checked out. He says items like fishing rods, pots and pans, and other items can be found in these object libraries. He also says the current infrastructure available would not support a full "library of things" concept, due to storage constraints, budget concerns, and focuses he wants to place in other areas within the library. However, there is an "Interlibrary Loan" system, which requests books, materials, and items from libraries across the country, which can potentially find the item community members need to use.
E-Content and Digital Rentals
Libraries across the nation have adopted internet services and digital materials into their mode of operations. Dirks says the changes were especially apparent when public internet stations became popular, but the push has drifted beyond access to the world wide web. Dirks says the Fargo Library has been seeking "E-Content" across the internet since the early 2010's; and have implemented audiobooks, e-books, language learning guides, legal resources, non-profit directories, small business resources, and several other resources that can be found by clicking here into their list of item available for library visitors.
Programs, Activities, and Community Outreach
One of the biggest categories Dirks wanted to focus on was the programs offered both within and outside of Fargo's libraries. Dirks spoke about several unique programs that are put on by volunteers, community members, and library staff. There is an updating list of programs offered inside the library for adults, teens, and children on the Fargo Public Library website.
"Just a variety [of things]... an introduction to Dungeons and Dragons, Trivia Night, we've had silent book clubs at restaurants, we've had trivia at bars," said Dirks, speaking on some of the programs offered by the library. "We've had so many things at so many places"
Many of the programs are hosted within the three library locations, but oftentimes are delivered to areas across the metro as well. This includes volunteers and library staff delivering books to retirement communities in Fargo, classrooms in the F-M metro, bringing a "book bike" to events or locations like farmers markets and parks, the creation of the "learning gardens" at their South Fargo location, and more. This also includes finding items, books, and programs city residents want to use but the library currently does not possess.
Plans are beginning to take shape at the Fargo Public Library to create a "facilities master plan". Dirks says the main purpose of the facilities masters plan is to maintain the existing libraries and ensure they can be used for decades to come. Dirks spoke on the possibility of purchasing unmanned book vending machines in public locations across Fargo and a "program bus" that would take many of the programs the library provides to locations across the F-M metro. He also teased the possibility of a fourth library that could be built in Fargo.
"We've reached out to The Park District, as a part of this conversation, and Fargo Police Department as potential partners for the future, as a potential fourth location," said Dirks, "That's way out in the future."
In the short-term, Dirks says book vending machines then the program vehicle are the most likely thing to come forward, but emphasizes his want to prioritize the long-term viability of the libraries in Fargo.
The Director says more people are going to libraries across the city, citing a 29% increase in visits to the three locations.
You can learn more about the Fargo Public Library and the services they provide by clicking here.