This project highlights the Multnomah County Library System’s (MCL) success in digitally transforming democratized service offerings to patrons over the last two decades. The supporting data set originates from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) Public Libraries Survey and spans the years 1998 to 2018. This timeline encompasses the Digital Age, a revolutionary time for information access and connectedness. Despite the increased prevalence of connectivity in the U.S., large sections of the population would be left behind if not for the library’s mission to provide free and equitable digital services. This project visualizes changes the MCL system has adopted in its mission and compares it to peer library systems on a national level.
At this time when many patrons feel the pains of accelerated change in library access due to COVID restrictions, it is important to look back on MCL’s digital transformation journey through the past and into the present day. Data findings cover the evolution of library material spending, change in patron reference needs, and patron internet access while injecting first-hand accounts from librarian interviews. The physical piece presented is a design-forward physical zine that will be distributed throughout the city of Portland.