Library usage exceeds average

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Survey> Patrons give LA county system high marks

By Arin McKenna

Library Board Chair Thad Hahn’s annual report to the Los Alamos County Council during this month’s work session indicates continuing satisfaction with the county’s library services.

One of the most impressive statistics was that the average circulation per borrower was 28 items, totaling 415,305 items checked out of county libraries in the past year.

That puts Los Alamos well above the national average for circulation. The American Library Association’s State of America’s Libraries suggests that, on average, libraries circulate 8.3 items per capita. Los Alamos averages 24 items per capita.

In addition to circulation, the libraries had 315,837 visits, 23,694 reference transactions, 16,902 attendees at library programs and 34,034 uses of public Internet computers.

Of the 420 residents responding to the 2012 Los Alamos County Customer Survey, 88 percent had used the library, and more than 45 percent had used it more than a dozen times.

That survey also recorded a high level of satisfaction with services.

Respondents rated the overall quality of the library at 3.7 on a four-point scale. Eighty-nine percent of respondents rated the service as excellent (64 percent) or good (25 percent).

Library Manager Steven Thomas has just been notified of another feather in the library’s cap. The youth services program is one of 25 recipients of an Excellence in Library Services to Young Adults award from the Young Adult Library Services Association.

The program will receive a $250 cash award, be included in the sixth edition of Excellence in Library Services to Young Adults (to be published in 2014) and have the opportunity to present the winning proposal at the YALSA’s President’s Program during the 2013 ALA Annual Conference in Chicago.

The notification from YALSA Executive Director Beth Yoke reads, “Your prize-winning program is a clear indication that you are dedicated to creating exemplary library service for and with young adults.”

Three significant library projects are currently underway.

An Invitation to Bid was just issued for a redesign of Library Drive and the book drop to increase pedestrian safety. The current design — a two-way street with a large book drop between lanes — causes a sightline problem for drivers with pedestrians crossing from the library.

The project calls for a one-way drive running east between the east and west parking lots. Two-way access will be unchanged from both Central Avenue and Bathtub Row as far as the parking lot entrances.

The book drop will be placed on the left side of the street, still under the portico but further from the library entrance. Sidewalks will be widened and the sidewalk from the skate park on the south side of the street will be contiguous so pedestrians are not tempted to walk in the road.

Now that council has given approval for Capital Improvement Projects to move forward, an RFP is being developed for the new White Rock Library.

That process should be completed in May, with a contract coming before council for approval in June. Staff expects the design to be completed by January 2014 and earthwork on the project to begin this fall. They anticipate moving to the new facility in April 2015.

Library staff is also making plans to reclaim the space currently occupied by the county’s information technology department once the move to the new municipal building is complete.

That space will be redesigned for expanded programming and teen activities.

The library board’s goals for the next year include supporting a comprehensive recreational and cultural master plan, exploring funding options for upgraded services at the new White Rock Branch Library — including new books, e-books and upgraded audio-visual equipment — and advising on projects for improving safe access to Mesa Public Library, such as realignment, traffic calming and crosswalks at the Library Drive and Central/Oppenheimer intersection.

“I feel really great about the community support for the library,” Thomas said. “It’s been a challenging budget time, but the library has a great team of people and we’re starting to move forward on some great projects.”