Technology path ahead for libraries, says retiring director
Ray Serebrin, who is retiring from the Jefferson County Library on Oct. 31, is cleaning out his office and taking home the toys he used to reward and recognize employees. -- Photo by Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News
By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News
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“The library is becoming a broker for all of the digital information that is now available,” said Serebrin, who is retiring this Thursday from his position as director of the Jefferson County Library.
“We now have ebooks and audio books and when the licensing is resolved, we will become a distributor of music and video,” Serebrin said.
Serebrin, 66, has held the Jefferson County position for 11 years. He previously worked at the Seattle Public Library.
He is to be replaced by Meredith Wagner, now the assistant director.
A reception for Serebrin is set from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday at the library at 620 Cedar Ave.
“People can either sing my praises or throw dirt on me,” Serebrin said.
The idea that the former orientation of libraries to bound paper books makes them obsolete is a common one, but Serebrin said libraries can thrive by providing access to digital content while showing patrons its use.
“The library has become a place where people can learn and gather information, and we will continue to provide the content and show people how they can download content,” Serebrin said.
“I can’t tell you how many people come in here holding a phone and say: ‘I have this, and I don’t know how to use it. How can I put a book on it?’ And we help them.”
Others come to the library for access to technology, since they lack home computers.
“There are a lot of people who don’t know how to apply for a job in the modern age,” Serebrin said.
“They hear about a job at QFC they want to apply for, but they don’t have a computer, so we show them how to use the system and help them with their application.
“This gets them to work and on the right path,” he said.
Right now, the licensing costs for music and video, which most likely would be offered by libraries on a streaming basis, are beyond the local library’s budget, Serebrin said.
But he expects that to change. And when it does, the offerings will become more robust, and there will be greater public access for all media types, he said.
Digital library loans are for a specific time and are no longer accessible after the due date, though renewals are possible.
“Just because something is digital, it doesn’t mean that it’s unlimited,” Serebrin said.
“It’s a different set of rules, but the idea is the same. If you borrow a book from the library, it is due in three weeks. We don’t want you to spit on it or throw it in the bathtub, and if you damage it, you need to pay for it,” Serebrin said.
“Digital is a new way to get this stuff, offering you things that you can read and listen to in ways that will enrich and enlighten your life.”
After his retirement Serebrin plans to get involved in radio, in which he has dabbled all his life, and is scheduled to have a show on KPTZ-91.9 FM “playing music, doing some spoken-word things and all kinds of innovative stuff.”
Serebrin lives in North Kitsap County but plans to stay visible on this side of the bridge after his retirement.
“Commuting hasn’t been a big deal for me, except when I wanted to vote here,” he said.
“But I love Jefferson County and want to stay involved with this community,”
Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or email@example.com.
Last modified: October 24. 2013 6:48PM