Buy And Borrow: Books And Libraries In South Florida

Nov 25, 2013

Credit Chloe Herring / WLRN

Only a few months ago, several public libraries in Miami-Dade County were targeted for closure. They were spared thanks to some last-minute financial rearranging of the county's annual budget. But the threat and budgetary maneuver sparked outrage first and now study of the role of public libraries in our modern-information society.

On Monday's Sunshine Economy we talk with two county library directors, Raymond Santiago from Miami-Dade and Norma Kula from Monroe County, about how they are thinking about the library of the future. Kristen McLean from Bookigee also joins the conversation on how libraries need to evolve to compete for readers and revenue.

South Florida may have an image of fun and sunny but the population of readers here are passionate about their books and their book buying. From Books and Books throughout the area to Libreri Mapou in Little Haiti, local, independent bookstores have found ways to survive against global, online giants. They do it by creating communities of readers that are very hard to replicate in cyberspace.

HCI Publishing has ridden the explosion in recovery literature, beginning with the "Chicken Soup for the Soul" series in 1993. It no longer owns the rights to the series, but it continues publishing best-sellers aimed at helping people and improving their lives. CEO Peter Vegso co-founded the publishing house and continues leading it today. We talk with him about the changes in the book business and how that is effecting his business in Deerfield Beach.

When a number of national book retailers have closed in recent years, Nate Sandler saw a void that has turned into an opportunity. He began Bookleggers, lugging boxes of books to various community events, bars and cafes to give away. He's found surprising support and proof of a literary economy in South Florida.