Library Director’s Report- September 2011
We have finished compiling our statistics for the annual state report. These benchmarks are used to compare libraries in the state which then rolls up to the national database in which our past “star ratings” are derived. Although there have been challenges this past year, the library once again performed very well and we should be very proud of ourselves. We will benchmark some of these on a per capita basis to compare with all libraries in the annual report. Some highlights include:
- 1.7 million in annual circulation, a slight increase from last year even though hours at one of our branches was decreased. More than half of the items borrowed were children’s materials.
- Over one million in annual visits to one our libraries, an increase from the past year!
- Our meeting rooms were used 1,820 times by the community.
- 110,000 volunteer hours were worked by our community members of all ages.
- 1,000 different teens used ourTeenCenter this past year for a total attendance of over 10,000. 200 teens gave 1,500 hours volunteering in theTeenCenter, planning and helping out with programs. This does not include the 50 teens that tutor younger kids daily for Project READ.
- 170,000 folks attended 7,500 library programs. Of these, 6,600 were children’s programs with 150,000 children and family members attending! All higher than the previous year’s high water mark.
- Our public computers were used 756,000 times and our website was visited 492,000 times, an increase of 30%!
- We added 26,000 books this past year to the collection.
- Initiatives this year included the annual Kindergarten Card Campaign, Library Foundation campaign forFair Oaks, and many internal organizational efficiencies.
Our top three accomplishments as I see them:
Our library is still thriving instead of surviving as many are. We are excellent at being an innovative, flexible, creative and strategic organization. Even as resources have been reduced, our service levels and outcomes have increased (we have become one of the top-ranked libraries in the country), and community satisfaction remains high. We are adept at looking for efficiencies, using volunteers, focusing on core services and always looking for ways to improve and meet the changing demand in libraries. Our management team and the development of key staff have changed the culture of the library and the library has now been fully integrated into the City organization through collaboration, shared resources and charter changes. We are also leaders in the county consortium and in the profession.
We are exceptional in making a difference in our youth and families lives and have protected, grown and prioritized resources to all programs that deliver youth services: Project READ’s many intervention programs, Traveling Storytime, expanded children’s spaces, school support and storytimes, theTeenCenter, even creating a family-friendly library in the Shores. We are striving to collaborate through the Youth Agenda and have hundreds of community partners.
We manage a diverse group of volunteers that help us deliver services at a reduced cost; or actually deliver service for us (local history, literacy tutors); or help raise funds to help lower the cost of services and keep our service levels high. We see the community as our partner and part of the solution, and the library as a gathering place that connects our community (the Shores Library has helped make the Shores community feel part ofRedwood City; volunteers tutoring adults and kids). This helps makeRedwood City healthy, successful and integrated. We do a wonderful job of the complexity of managing 1,400 volunteers!
Redwood City Libraries and San Mateo County Libraries will be participating in the “Food for Fines” program, collecting food for the Second Harvest Food Bank. When customers donate food, their overdue fines and hold fees will be waived. One unit of food will waive the charges on one account. The program will run from Nov 15th through Dec 31st. Our goal is to help those in need and encourage customers to return long overdue material so that borrowing privileges can be reinstated. Only fines and fees forRedwood City and County items will be waived. Lost or damaged items, collection fee or printing fees are not included.
RFID checkout units are in use at the Downtown and Shores libraries with very positive comments from staff and customers. Schaberg andFair Oaks libraries are slated for early November. Tagging of materials has been completed at both these libraries. When fully implemented, along with self-service payment machines, self check-in of materials, and an automated sorting system, the project will reduce staff time in collecting fines and handling materials, and increase the customer experience.
The Schaberg After-School Program, a collaboration between the Library and Parks, Recreation and Community Services, is in full swing. The program is open to students in grades 1st through 8th and provides homework support and assistance, recreational activities, games and snacks, in a supervised and safe environment, for children after school.
Fair Oaks continues to have a wonderful well attended diversity of programs for the community, including a workshop on family finances, celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month, music and craft programs, class visits to the library, homework help and of course our many weekly storytimes.
In preparation for painting the outside of the Fair Oaks building, the County removed the ivy, trimmed trees, removed large rocks and dead shrubs and power washed the building. Staff has also been working on landscaping and trash issues with staff from the Human Services Agency.
We are also working with the PD on the persistent presence of folks sleeping and hanging out in the park and plaza at the Downtown Library, causing many trash issues, and an unsafe environment for staff, our teens and our many families who use the library.
The Redwood City Public Library attracted more than 1 million visits last year. Users checked out nearly 1.7 million items, 17 for every resident in the city or our unincorporated neighborhoods we serve. Programs for youth and families, volunteer opportunities, access to computers and meeting room use either sustained or exceeded previous year’s high water marks. We will again be a star-rated library.
Our library continues to meet growing demands for services despite economic challenges, creating efficiencies, attracting quality volunteers and focusing on core services. In addition to providing books and access to information and entertainment, we help people find jobs and grow small businesses. We help families support their children’s educational success. Public libraries such as ours have always walked hand in hand with democratic government. Equity of access to our resources is a most important concern. If information is power, then the public library is the source of that power. Sweeping technological changes have transformed the way people get information. But the library remains a sought-after resource for literacy and learning, quality of life, and programs for children and teenagers.
As use of the public library continues to grow, its impact on the economic vitality of our region is high. Building brainpower — through early childhood reading and learning, which helps grow local workers needed for our companies, or helping hone new skills and explore new job opportunities for our current workers, linking literacy, learning and community, serving as economic engines in downtown and neighborhoods — contributes to Redwood City’s prosperity and a high quality of life.
The library remains devoted to strengtheningRedwood City’s diverse communities. Hundreds of organizations partner with the library through sponsorships, in-kind donations, and collaborations to present high-quality programs and services to community residents at little or no cost. A library customer told me that his local branch is his university. It is where young children on the wrong side of the digital divide keep pace with their more-advantaged peers. It is where folks who lack a high school diploma obtain the credentials they need to help themselves and their families succeed. It is a safe and engaging place for our kids. It is where folks get a boost up to succeed and a place of community and lifelong learning for those who are successful. It offers a connection for those who have, to help those who have not. It connects all of us. We build community.