Earlier this month, libraries across the country observed National Library week. Alamance County Public Libraries kicked off our celebration with LibFest, our first festival highlighting our libraries and their role in our community.
If you made it to LibFest, you were in good company – approximately 2000 people attended the festival. The feedback we received from those who attended has been overwhelmingly positive. The weather was beautiful, the food was yummy, and the entertainment and activities were a big hit! ACPL staff is eagerly looking ahead to next year, because the event was as much fun for our staff as it was for the public.
A reporter from Channel 2 interviewed several of us during the “Good Morning Show” the day of LibFest. One of the questions he asked was how (and if) public libraries remain relevant to their communities.
Public libraries are not only relevant to their communities, they are essential! Our role may be shifting, and our patrons’ needs may be changing, but the bottom line is that Google has not replaced us yet! Your public library is alive and well in 2014.
In March, over 44,000 people walked through our doors, and each one of them needed something only their library could provide. During the ice storm, that need might have been simply to warm up and charge up, but we were happy to be there for our patrons!
Our libraries are more than just books, but books are still a huge part of who we are. In March, ACPL patrons checked out over 38,000 books and over 4500 audiobooks. In addition, our Outreach Services volunteers delivered crates of books to 36 homebound patrons.
People are reading! They read for pleasure and for information. They read to escape and to let their imaginations soar. They read because Oprah recommended an author and because their teacher assigned a book. Whatever their reason for reading, people are able to read because our libraries have shelves of books available to check out. 38,000 books checked out in one month – that’s over 1,200 books checked out each day! Let that number sink in and just try to tell me libraries are unnecessary!
Of course, our patrons come to us for a variety of reasons. They bring us their questions. In March alone, staff answered over 3,000 reference questions! Nearly 10,000 people logged on to one of our computers during that month, and our staff fielded over 2,000 computer questions. We helped people apply for jobs, set up a Facebook account, type up a paper, answer their email, print, scan and more!
People look to us for entertainment, too. Last month, we checked out almost 20,000 DVDs. We presented 103 programs at our libraries in March, and over 2,000 people attended those programs.
If you are still unsure about the relevancy of public libraries, I encourage you to pay us a visit! I am thankful every day that I stumbled into librarianship, because I am lucky to be a part of such a thriving, changing and exciting institution.
Heather Holley-Hall is Alamance County Public Libraries’ Head of Branch Services. She may be reached at email@example.com or 336-570-6730.