BY MOLLY SCANLAN LIBRARY DIRECTOR
As the summer months comes to an end, even though the temperature is still soaring, and children return to school it is time to take a look at the past year and how well the Library performed in meeting our objective of giving great service to the community. It was a banner year in spite of all the remodeling and renovation that took part over seven months beginning in July of 2015 and finally coming to an end in April of 2016. Despite the construction and the chaos with areas of the Library being closed during the entire time and every book and department was moved at least once, sometimes two or three times, people continued to use the Library! Visits to the Library and materials checked out did not drop from the last fiscal year, and use of the computers actually increased over this time period. Over 154,000 people visited the Library between May 2015 and April of 2016. The Library loaned a total of 337,286 items during this period. Despite the usual books the Library now offers checkout of games, roku’s, tablets, nooks, portable DVD players and other electronic equipment.
Finally, with all the remodeling behind us, use of the Library during the summer months skyrocketed! In May through July of 2007 compared to the same months in 2016 checkout of materials went from 63,997 to 105,1000; a 64% increase. Also comparing those same two periods attendance went from 29,402 to 48,976; and people using the Library’s computers went from 2,832 to 12,266; a 318% increase! Despite this huge increase in use of the Library over the past nine years the number of Library staff has not increased despite increasing the number of hours open to include Sunday hours and an extra hour on Fridays.
Along with the many very popular children’s early literacy and other educational and creative classes for children, including a new STEM program, many more adult programs were added such as speed readers (a reading and running club,) yoga classes, and workshops to help adults learn healthy habits, new skills, or find a job. These are starting to draw in more users to the Library. We do not charge for these classes as you are already paying for them through property tax dollars. These dollars are the main form of library revenue and public library service is about the only service or organization in Illinois that is supported almost solely through property taxes.
Services at the Library do not remain static. We try to change as the needs of the community change and new technology emerges at a rapid pace. The Library is now the one place people can get one on help with new forms of technology. I observed Ryan Johnson, our Adult Services Manager, helping a patron learn how to use a new smart phone that had been given to her as a gift. Patiently he helped her set it up show her how to use the different features.
With property tax revenues remaining virtually unchanged over the past five years the Library has had to let go of decades of unchanged benefits, and cut or change almost all staff benefits in order not to have to cut services to the public. The Library’s compete annual report and budget can be found on our website at: http://ofpl.info/board.
Now what is in store for this year? A new parking lot and replacement of some of the 20 old HVAC units! Also beginning Sept. 1st National Library Card Signup week begins! Next week we will tell you more about the perks of showing your library card at various area businesses.