by Susan Craig on April 15th, 2014
National Library Week is this week. It is a national observance sponsored by the American Library Association and was first celebrated in 1958. Libraries have seen many changes in the past 46 years, but the core values of literacy, free access to information, intellectual freedom, and strengthening community remain the same.
How we meet the needs of our community now includes outreach to daycares, public access computers, electronic collections, and technology classes. For the last 20 years, I’ve heard predictions that the library wasn’t needed and would be going away “soon.” That has not happened, and I don’t think it will happen in the foreseeable future. The Iowa City Public Library is a trusted and well used community resource.
We are in process of compiling all the data from the surveys that people completed in March. This information shows that the Library is considered very important to the quality of life in the community by 94.2% of respondents. More than 80% have visited in the last six months and 31% visit three or more times per month. The Library is a place to “get” stuff and meet people. People filling out the survey were asked what they did on a visit and they replied:
- Checked out library materials (79.2%)
- Searched the library catalog (44%)
- Picked up a hold (32.5%)
- Asked staff for help (31.6%)
- Viewed a display, exhibit or art (17%)
- Attended children in the Childrens Room (13.5%)
- Used wireless network (11.1%)
- Attended a meeting (9.7%)
- Met a friend of colleague (9.7%)
Whatever your reason, I hope you visit soon. And, take the time during National Library Week to share a fond memory you have of an experience in a library.
by Susan Craig on March 24th, 2014
The Library has worked under a strategic plan for more than thirty years, adopting a new one every four or five years. It is often noted by new Library Board members, with varying degrees of astonishment, that we actually follow our plan! The first step of a new planning process, which we have just begun, is an environmental scan.
We can learn a lot about our environment by looking at facts and figures about our community and how it has changed since our last planning process. Is our community increasing or decreasing in population? If growing, where are the growth areas? What changes in other demographics are measurable– income, race, education level?
The most important part of our environment is what residents in our service area think about our current services, how they use the library, and what needs we aren’t meeting.
That is where you can help us.
Two thousand households in our service area (Iowa City, rural Johnson County, University Heights, Hills and Lone Tree) received printed surveys. If you received one, please complete and return it by April 1.
A large sample of people who have used their library cards recently and for whom we have email address will get an email this week asking them to complete an online survey. This survey is available to anyone and can be found at: http://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/1568479/Iowa-City-IA-Web-Survey
Personally, I find it more than a little annoying, to be asked to evaluate everything I buy or experiences I have. I choose to do it for a selected few organizations and companies that I expect to have an ongoing relationship with and who I believe will do something constructive with my feedback. I hope you feel that way about the Library and will take the time to complete a survey. We won’t ask often and we will consider all of your responses. Thank you.
by Susan Craig on February 25th, 2014
I don’t know about you, but I am more ready for spring than I have been the last few years. I have been asked a couple of times this winter if the Library was closing. Typically, we are open in most weather, including snow. If the snow is very heavy and expected to continue; if ice makes travel treacherous for hours, or if we have a large number of staff that cannot make it to work then I will consider closing for the day.
That has not happened this year. We have had many snow “events” but nothing of blizzard proportions. Yes, snow often results in less business at the library, but, like a grocery store we are often busy before (a rush to pick up that reserved item to read under a cozy quilt after an hour of shoveling, or some family movies to occupy the frigid evenings that often follow a snow) and after as soon as the streets are clear enough to get around. No matter the weather, there are always people at the Library.
I believe the public library is a very important resource, and one that should be available as much as possible. It is also an optional visit (unlike school) so no one suffers if they can’t make it due to weather …. Unless you consider being deprived of library time as suffering!
It’s pretty common sense that the hours the library is open correlate directly to how many people physically visit the building. The Library Board sets the building hours and calendar in February every year for the upcoming fiscal year. When the library is open is so important they have an entire policy devoted to library hours.
What do you think our busiest day is, hour for hour? If you guessed Sunday (we’re only open 12-5 on Sunday) you are correct. In the second quarter (Oct-Dec) we averaged 279 people per hour in the library, followed by Saturday at 242 people per hour. Our busiest weekday is Friday (212 people per hour) and our least busy is Tuesday at only 164.
It’s still cold, but it’s warm inside, so come on downtown and make a visit to the public library.
by Susan Craig on February 12th, 2014
Who doesn’t love their library?
Public libraries are held in high regard by most people. A new Pew study shows that over 90 percent of Americans older than 16 think that public libraries improve the quality of life in a community, are important because they promote literacy and love of reading, and play in important role in giving everyone a chance to succeed by providing materials and resources. Closer to home, a similar number of residents (94 percent) rated the Iowa City Public Library as excellent or good in a recent community survey.
My love affair with libraries goes back to the east side Carnegie library building in Waterloo, Iowa. The Children’s Room was in the basement with its own separate entrance. It was like walking downstairs into a treasure room with a little basement smell, the smell of books and Miss Kelley (she didn’t smell), who kept me in reading material for many years.
Modern Children’s Rooms are much more lively and colorful with programs (book babies, reading to dogs in the library –who would have thought!), collections (downloadable books for kids, movies, toys!), and technology quite a bit more advanced than a stereopticon (iPads, AWE computers) not even dreamed of back then.
The more things change the more they stay the same – the public library still supports education and entertainment while providing a safe place and free access for people of all ages and from all socio-economic ranges. However, providing library services is not free and, in addition to our tax support, we rely on private gifts to help us provide the services you know and love.
This month we have a special challenge – for every library lover who makes a first time donation to the Friends Foundation a generous donor will match gifts up to the first $1,000. Please help us meet that match. Go to Love Your Library and make a donation today.
Enjoy all of our Love Your Library special activities
by Susan Craig on February 10th, 2012
The 2012 All Iowa Reads title is Tracy Kidder’s Strength in What Remains, only the second nonfiction book in the program’s nine year history. Strength in What Remains tells the story of Deogratis, or Deo, who as a 22 year old medical student barely escapes the Hutu slaughter of Tutsis in Burundi. He finds himself in New York City in 1994 with no English skills and $200. The story moves back and forth in time and place — from Africa to New York. And. although the horror of events in Africa is almost undescribable, living poor on the streets of New York as a young black man with no money is not an easy life either. Deo is helped by remarkable, generous people — but, the personal courage and fortitude needed to prevail is his. As a member of the All Iowa Reads Committee I recently did a program on this book with Kirkwood instructor, George Minot. He said the key to good nonfiction writing is to “make what is true believable.” Everyone should read this inspiring story from a great author who succeeds in that goal.