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Build a better library…and the world will beat a path to your door

January 29, 2009

At the beginning of every year library directors tend to pause to take a breath and reflect on the previous year.

It’s probably not surprising but I can report that we did experience a significant increase in use just as has been widely documented all across America.  It really is true that during difficult economic times people turn to their libraries.

Our increase in circulation was over 6 percent in one year.

Additionally, the number of library visits grew 6.5 percent from 2007 to 2008.

Those numbers don’t necessarily sound like much but, trust me, it is a challenge to our staff to keep pace with the increased usage, adapt to the technological and work flow changes, and attempt to provide the highest quality library service with ever more limited dollars.

A couple days ago I decided to dig up the annual reports going back to 1983.  I chose that year because that was when the library last expanded.

I entered the number of library visits per year into the spreadsheet, used the tool to create a chart, and sat back to review the resulting image.  Wow.  The first thing that popped into my head was the old saying:

Build a better mousetrap…and the world will beat a path to your door.

In 1983 we recorded 35,047 library visits.  In 2008, we tallied 192,744 visits which translated to 636 people every day we were open and an increase of 450% (from 1983).

The next thing that entered my mind (after deleting the slightly distasteful mental image of the mousetrap and replacing it with an image of our library) was that the staff deserves so much credit.  After all, a library building is just the framework.  Excellent library service cannot be achieved without people committed to making it happen.  And this staff is committed.

I believe this place has always been incredibly special, a combination of stunning architecture and outstanding people.  Before the 1983 expansion this library was special.  After the 1983 expansion it was even better…more able to accommodate the many needs of our citizens.  We are looking forward to the next round of improvements and know that our community will demonstrate just how much they value their community library..by beating a path to our door (which, by the way, we plan to move down Merchants Avenue).

So here’s a picture of the path of the last 25 years…

library-visits-chart-cropped

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