In January of 2011 we announced that the Library had developed a new Strategic Plan. For the past year we have been working toward the five goals of that new plan and the results have been amazing. Library use is at an all time high, nearly surpassing all of 2010 by the end of November. Program attendance has already surpassed 2010’s with more than 400,000 people of all ages attending a Library workshop, class or program. The number of visits to the Library also surpassed 2010 with nearly 7 million Library visits through November.
Use of the Library’s digital content, books and music that can be downloaded, has seen huge growth in 2011 increasing by a whopping 522%.
These increases in use can be directly attributed to changes made as part of our Strategic Plan. We heard that our cardholders wanted more access to new titles so we changed what we buy to meet this demand. We expected to see demand for digital content grow as more and more of our cardholders bought e-readers, so we significantly increased our purchasing of digital titles, added downloadable music to our offerings, and offered classes to help everyone learn how to use their new e-readers. We expect this trend to continue in 2012, especially since the Kindle is now compatible with our digital books.
Among the most exciting changes we made in 2011 were the changes to the Library Card Policy. Driven by our goals to “Excel in customer service” and to “Become the first choice for information,” these changes have revolutionized the way cardholders use our Library. First, if you use your Library card it will never expire. Second, if you have items checked out and you also have fi nes, we won’t stop you from being able to renew items as they become due.
Our new cards for kids and teens make it easy for our younger cardholders to access the Library. With these two new types of cards, no parent’s signature is needed. There are no fi nes. A cardholder can take out up to three items from the children’s or teen’s departments and keep them as long as they like. When the items are returned, more can be borrowed.
To meet the needs of our digital book readers, we have a new Digital Only card. And, the Internet Only card can be used at any Library location to access the Internet.
As a result of these changes, the number of cardholders in our Library has increased to more than 420,000—an increase of nearly 22%.
Our Strategic Plan calls for us to advance the use of digital technology for digitizing local content. We’re continuing to digitize items in our collection as well as adding to our Digital Services Department’s capabilities with equipment to convert microform to digital. The equipment for this most recent expansion was purchased with a Library Services and Technology Act Grant.
One of the biggest accomplishments of 2011 is the display of the Cincinnati Panorama of 1848. Out of public sight for more than 60 years, the panorama is now on display in the Joseph S. Stern, Jr. Cincinnati Room with a touch screen to zoom in for a close up look at Cincinnati in 1848. Can’t visit the Library? Take a look at the panorama through our website 1848.CincinnatiLibrary.org.
Under the goal of supporting literacy and lifelong learning we received funding from the PNC Foundation for a financial literacy program for preschool children. Thanks to the generosity of PNC, nearly 3,000 children as well as parents and caregivers will learn how to spend, share and save their money over the next two years.
This is complemented by the expansion of branch homework centers to eight locations and the addition of the Adult Learning Center during morning hours at the Main Library’s Homework Central. Just started in October, the adult learners have taken literacy lessons, received online job application assistance, practiced conversational English, prepared for the GED, learned how to use Microsoft Word, and used our exam proctoring service.
Under our goal to make all Library facilities accessible to all, we began construction to make the Pleasant Ridge Branch Library handicapped accessible. This project is nearing completion and we expect to hold a grand opening in January. The financial support and strong advocacy of the Pleasant Ridge Community Council Library Committee played a crucial role in the completion of this improvement.
Under the goal of achieving financial security and in response to more funding cuts hitting the Library in the second half of 2011 and all of 2012, we’ve taken a look at our operations and made some significant changes to reduce our operating expenses long-term.
These and the many other improvements we’ve made have moved us toward our strategic goals and resulted in record levels of use. But perhaps more importantly, our customer satisfaction surveys show that our cardholders are extremely pleased with the improvements.
This barely scratches the surface of all we’ve done this year—all to keep providing our community with the best possible Library service. Keep watching for more improvements in 2012 and keep using your public library.