The Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library is making a difference in the community. In 2011, we saw the demand for library resources continue to climb. We saw the way customers choose to enjoy reading quickly evolve (anyone buy an ereader lately?). We reached out more than ever before – getting more collections and staff out of the building and forming more connections digitally. We hope we’ve lived up to our mission. “Your place. Stories you want, information you need, and connections you seek.”
A KIDS’ PLACE
2011 marked the transformation of the “youth services area” into a Kids Library. With a little paint and the vision of talented staff, murals tell the story of reading growth and create engaging settings for learning and quality family time. Each scene ties to the books on the shelves and the age range of readers. A team of library staff including librarians, administrators, artists (including our star multimedia artist Michael Perkins) and facilities staff used its institutional knowledge to transform the space to a kids’ place. Read more about the plan and how you can make your contribution to the Kids Library (pdf).
VISIT A LIBRARY NEIGHBORHOOD
We have more than a century of experience in meeting your needs, and you rely heavily on us as a valued community asset. Today’s library is a customer-focused organization. Four years ago, we implemented the Neighborhood concept, which pulls related topics together in one place for your browsing convenience. This organizational system has helped turn around a troubling trend: the decrease in non-fiction check-outs. The Pets and Cooking neighborhoods, for example, have seen a 30 percent and 23 percent increase in use, respectively, since their creation in 2010. Neighborhoods completed in 2011 include Home, Weddings, and Collectibles – as well as the mini neighborhoods for picture books in the Kids Library.
A YEAR OF KANSAS-THEMED ART AND CULTURE
We made history with a very significant birthday in our state this year. We played a role in helping preserve and celebrate our community’s cultural heritage by partnering with cities, organizations and individuals across Kansas in a commemoration of its 150th birthday. The library marked the milestone year with two art exhibits at our Alice C. Sabatini Gallery (Kansas Masters Invitational Art Exhibit and Kansas 150/150), and we hosted at least one Kansas-themed event each month. The awareness of our state’s history carried over online with the creation of the 52 for 150 video project (great job Heather Kearns!). Hundreds of Kansans joined us on the lawn of the Statehouse for Movie on the Lawn, a Kansas-themed, outdoor film series.
MAKING A DIFFERENCE IN EDUCATION
More than 5,500 children read 37,000 hours during their summer vacation as part of the SummerFest reading challenge. Our Readapalooza reading program encouraged nearly 500 elementary-aged readers to fall in love with reading and storytelling. Thanks in part to that successful series, attendance at SummerFest events for the elementary sect increased 97 percent over last year. The investment you made by participating had an impact on stopping the “summer slide.” Working with the Auburn-Washburn school district, student reading scores pre- and post-SummerFest were collected and analyzed for the second year in a row. A snapshot from that study shows that participation in summer reading programs helps kids to maintain or improve reading skills and scores. Additionally, Rochester Elementary and Shawnee Heights Elementary were able to replicate that success, reporting that 80 percent of the students who participated in summer reading maintained or improved their reading level. (You now have a big motivation to read with us during SummerFest 2012. It starts June 2.)
STAR-GAZING AT THE LIBRARY
We draw high-profile authors and artists to Topeka to educate, enrich and entertain our community. From local to national, 2011 brought all kinds of authors to speak to readers of all ages. Popular authors including Gary Clark, Chris Crutcher, the 2011 Newbery Award Winner Clare Vanderpool and 2011 Librarian of the Year Nancy Pearl. We also hosted Hollywood filmmaker Kevin Willmott, who spoke to teens about following their dreams and overcoming adversity.
EREADER USE AND EBOOK DOWNLOADS EXPLODE
More and more people are discovering ebooks at their library. With the proliferation of ereaders and tablets, the way people read has evolved, and we’ve worked quickly to respond to this trend with innovations such as a popular Apple iPad class for beginners (Kudos to “iTeacher” Robert Banks). Also popular is our try-before-you-buy ereader display for you to find the perfect device to suit your needs – plus a librarian to give you a good reference recommendation. The future supply and availability of econtent is currently like a mystery, but the library is working with suppliers and publishers to resolve these issues. At year’s end when the state’s contract with ebook provider OverDrive fell through, the library made the decision to go it alone. We signed our own contract with OverDrive, working quickly to ensure customers experienced virtually no gap in access. Our collection of ebooks continues to grow, providing a free option to filling up that Kindle or Nook.
LIBRARY ON THE GO
There’s a growing community of library customers for whom our Digital Branch IS their library. In 2011, we launched the TopekaLibrary mobile app for smart phones, allowing customers to access the library on the go. Our digital connection with customers is strongest on our social media pages and on our Digital Branch at tscpl.org. In March, we unveiled a redesigned website. (You’re on it. Go ahead surf around. We think you’ll like what you discover.) We also introduced a service where customers can download music tracks – free AND legally.
WHAT’S NEXT IN 2012?
We are looking forward to an exciting future. Gina Millsap, the library’s CEO, was nominated for president of ALA in 2011… will she get it? Stay tuned in during 2012. The voting occurs in April. Also, looking ahead, we are studying the feasibility of locating book dispensers around the county, watch for 3-D installations to finish out the Kids Library and customers will be searching a new catalog! Many exciting things to come in 2012. We hope to see you all at the library or on one of our bookmobiles. In the meantime, if you have a question or comment you can always leave it below, and we will get back to you.
2011 BY THE NUMBERS
|2011 at a Glance|
|Visitors to physical building||822,361|
|Unique visitors to Digital Branch||422,739|
|Reference questions answered||238,879|
|People who used our meeting rooms||135,555|
|People who attended our programs||86,145|
In 2011, the Library provided a $30 million value to our community, and customers checked out more than two million books, movies and games. (Calculate your individual return with our value calculator.)
Ereaders were such a popular Christmas gift in 2010 that customer use actually crashed the state system in January 2011. Digital Downloads were up 175 percent from 2010 to 2011.
The library recorded 7.5 percent more visitors to its Digital Branch in January 2011 over the same time the year before. In March of 2011, our Digital Branch underwent a redesign, making it even easier for customers to find their way around and spend more time there.
The number of items housed in the library’s collection decreased by 6 percent. A campaign is underway to help build our collection back up, which will give better selection to the public.
The check-out of books for the legally blind was down significantly as the Talking Books program moved its entire operation to Emporia.
*Library Services Expenditures
Equipment & Capital Improvements: $352,452
Library Materials: $1,059,270
Programming & Events: $92,690
Salaries and Benefits: $10,985,725
Debt Service: $1,796,712
Other operating expenses: $1,778,310
*Sources of financial support include $14,801,813 in taxes, $245,257 in contributions, $131,664 in grants and state aid, $1,011,370 in fees and reimbursements, and $39,518 in investment income.
Lisa Coble-Krings, Writer and Editor
Michael Perkins, Producer and MultiMedia Artist
Nathan Hohl, Voice Talent
Thanks also to creative support from Diana Friend, Richard Kobs, Robert Banks, David Lee King, Gina Millsap, Bill Ludwig, Nancy Overmyer and Jeff Tate, the library’s Creative Group.