Edmonds Library: People, ideas and culture | Librarian's Desk

By Richard Suico | Feb 07, 2018

Americans love their public libraries. The comments that I repeatedly hear in the course of my work are reflected in the research.

Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project 2013 report noted that every major institution had fallen in public esteem except the military, first-responders and libraries.

The same study found that 91 percent of those surveyed said libraries are “very” or “somewhat” important to their communities. Their public library experience was rated as “very” or “mostly” positive by 98 percent of respondents.

The Public Library Survey in 2012 gathers usage data from all public libraries in 50 states and the District of Columbia. The survey’s most current statistics report show 1.5 billion in-person visits to local libraries. Almost 93 million people attended four million programs.

How does Edmonds Library compare?

In 2017, more than 226,000 people visited the library. We hosted 350 programs that were attended by more than 10,000 people, and nearly 340,000 items were checked out. These are significant numbers that reinforce the idea that libraries are an important part of a community.

The mission of Sno-Isle Libraries is to be a community doorway to reading, resources and lifelong learning, and a center for people, ideas and culture. This mission has served the community well by allowing the library to stay flexible, nimble and responsive to community needs.

The 2017-19 strategic plan concentrates on three priorities: kindergarten readiness; civic engagement to address community issues; and helping small-business owners and entrepreneurs.

We also work closely with community organizations and volunteers. A key partner is Friends of the Edmonds Library, whose annual and ongoing book sales contributed more than $30,000 last year to library programs, facilities, scholarship and staff training.

We also partner with the Edmonds Arts Commission and Art Walk Edmonds to offer the monthly “Music at the Library” series that bring local musicians a stage and more cultural content to downtown Edmonds on the third Thursday evening Art Walk.

The library’s partnership with EPIC Writers allows local writers to gather to learn and practice the craft of writing. There is a dedicated group of volunteers who help non-English speakers learn about civics, American culture and practice English skills at the very popular Friday morning English language program at the library.

We have SCORE volunteers on every first Thursday in the evening and second Saturday in the morning to help small business and entrepreneurs with questions for their startup or business.

As tax season ramps up, dedicated AARP tax volunteers, led by hardworking coordinator Ken Magill, will be available with free tax help and e-filing from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesdays and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays, through April 14.

You can self-register at the tax table by the customer service desk.

Going back to the same 2013 Pew Research report, while it showed the popularity of libraries, it also revealed a disconnect. Of the respondents, only 22 percent said that they know all or most of the services their libraries offer. That leaves the vast majority knowing little to nothing of what is available through their libraries.

Again, I find these results reflected in my own interactions. I hope that this article and future opportunities in the Edmonds Beacon will increase your awareness and appreciation of your library.

Have a great start to the new year!

 

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