The Moose Jaw Public Library continues to be a popular place, as data from 2018 indicates areas such as items borrowed and patron visits continue to increase.
There were 170,395 visits to the library last year, which is an average of 52 visits for every hour the library was open, explained Sarah Simison, library board chairwoman. In comparison, two years ago those numbers were 164,943 and 50, respectively.
“One of our aims as a centre for lifelong learning is to offer our community equal opportunities to access information, recreational and educational materials,” Simison told city council on April 8 while discussing the library’s 2018 annual report.
Library cards save money
There were 14,688 active cardholders in Moose Jaw last year, compared to 18,137 cardholders two years ago.
The library circulated 282,252 print and digital items last year throughout the city and provincially. In comparison, 281,436 similar items were circulated two years ago to patrons and across the province.
If everyone in Moose Jaw borrowed an item from the library last year, that would come to roughly nine items borrowed per citizen, said Simison. If those nine items were hardcover books worth $35 each, then each person would have saved $315 by using a library card.
The notion that the internet can answer every question is untrue, Simison said, since library staff answered 20,902 questions, of which 12,196 were reference questions and included patron interactions, computer and technology questions, research questions and training, genealogical questions, book recommendations, or selection help.
In comparison, in 2017 library staff answered 17,668 questions.
Internet access important
Last year there were 14,166 logins at public access computers; two years ago that number was 14,381 logins.
“Internet access is becoming fundamental to the way people are gaining employment, pursuing further training for employment, and for social connection, as well as for learning,” said Simison. “The library is proud to offer this service to our community.”
Not everyone comes to the library to borrow books, however, Simison continued. Last year 6,433 people attended 407 programs for children, youths and adults. All those programs were free and fostered lifelong learning, acquisition of early literacy skills, educational opportunities and promotion of curiosity and learning.
In comparison, 6,062 children, youths and adults attended 438 programs two years ago.
Highlights from last year include the launch of author Robert Currie’s recent book, plus a presentation by Saskatchewan author Bill Waiser. Recently, the library’s knitting group participated in the creation of the world’s largest blanket. A baby friendly chair was also purchased to enhance the children’s department.
Advocating for funding
Further information shows there were 3,258 outreach items delivered to patrons last year, versus 3,611 items two years ago. The library’s Facebook page received 1,222 likes to its posts, compared to 986 likes two years ago.
The Moose Jaw Public Library continues to advocate for the continued presence and funding to regional libraries, said Simison. This year, the provincial government gave the Palliser Regional Library a funding increase of one per cent after eight years without one.
“This is a move in a positive direction,” she continued. Moose Jaw Library board members will continue to serve on the regional library board and will continue to advocate for funding.
“We look forward to working hard in 2019 to continue the delivery of excellent, low-cost, high quality service to our community,” she added.