March 19, 2016

Looking Back to Move Forward

Submitted by Joanna Bailey, Library Director

Planning a new year of library service, for me, starts with reflection on the past.  I review the services we provided last year and evaluate success through the lens of library service roles, performance measures, and patron feedback.  It takes time but it’s time well spent.  

Fulfilling our service roles encourages and promotes life-long learning for all ages.  Neill Library serves as a popular materials library, early literacy cornerstone, general information center, and community activities center.  I use industry performance measures as tools for determining effectiveness of service.  For example, I look at the number of: library materials that check out (circulate), programs and program attendance, and library cardholders.  Patron feedback is another critical component.  The process of evaluating a year’s worth of service is time well spent to answer my true-north question:  are we maximizing resources to provide our community with the best service we can?  After review, I’m pleased to affirm we are.

Here is a snapshot of library activity last year:
More patrons visited the library, opened library accounts, and borrowed materials.
Annual library visits = 238,368 (1% increase)
Number of cardholders = 14,645 (1.3% increase)
o 70% of cardholders are Pullman residents
Annual circulation of library materials = 323,766 (1% increase)
o 64% of circulation activity comes from Pullman residents
o 21% increase in e-book and e-audiobook reading

The library receives its operating budget from the City of Pullman.  Dividing the operating budget by Pullman’s population translates into a per capita operating cost.  In 2015, each Pullman resident paid $45 for year-long access to a public collection of 136,185 items and 391 literacy programs.  Materials were borrowed at a per capita cost of $2.74 per item.  Funding falls short of the $3.84 state comparable for libraries with similar city populations and short of the $4.87 state average of among libraries within our service category.  
 
The library received $53,171 from the Friends of Neill Public Library for new materials and programs.  Donations were also received from Pullman Firefighters IAFF Local 1892, Pullman Education Foundation, and Pullman Kiwanis Club.  Last year 125 volunteers donated 1,850 hours to enhance library programs and services.  We thank our wonderful donors and volunteers for their support!

Programs were funded by Friends of NPL and endowments (51%) and the City of Pullman (49%).  The library held 391 programs (10% increase) with 13,976 attending (11% increase).  We were proud to host Pulitzer prize-winning author Anthony Doerr as part of the Everybody Reads program.  The library’s flagship summer reading event featured local and regional authors for adults while children delighted in performances from clowns, knights, and magicians and the reading talents of celebrity guests Mayor Glenn Johnson and local Police and Fire department staff.  
 
Neill Library maintained its focus on developing 21st century career skills and technology resources for its patrons.  Programs on resume building, LinkedIn, interview skills, and salary negotiation were highly attended.   Patrons continued to gain technology skills through coursework from the library’s Microsoft IT Academy program.   Examples of course offerings include 42 classes on coding and over 300 classes on database fundamentals, servers and networking.  Enrollment is free with a library card.  

So, another year on the shelf! Our collective sleeves are newly rolled up and we’re planning more of what you love.  Come see us today! The library’s full report is available on our website www.neill-lib.org 

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