Message to the Community from Luren E. Dickinson
The year 2006 broke the annual record for the most material circulated by the Shaker Heights Public Library in its history. The previous record was set in 2004. After a slight downturn in 2005, we have reached a new standard of excellence. The fact that we broke the record is one story, but how we did it is another.
A variety of factors contributed to lower monthly totals for the early part of the year. Cold, snowy weather kept the numbers down in the winter months of January and February. Also, we were beginning to phase out most of our VHS tapes in favor of more DVDs; however, none of the DVDs were shelved until May. Construction on Lee Road through the month of June also kept many people away from the Main Library.
As a result, our year-to-date statistics were down by 8% at the end of April and were still off by 7.5% by the end of May. Nevertheless, we ended the year with surges in activity levels at both the Main Library and the Bertram Woods Branch. The figures were especially notable at the Main Library, which saw double-digit monthly increases for each month from August through December, with an 18.8% increase in November and a 17.7% increase in December over those months the previous year. This is quite remarkable given the fact that the Main Library’s front doors were closed and we had to divert library visitors to the side entrance.
All totaled, we circulated 1,163,281 items, a 2.1% increase over 2005. Overall, it was quite a turnaround and a nice way to end one year and begin another.
Speaking of turnarounds, endings, and beginnings, January is a good time to analyze such things. We get our name for the first month of the year from the Romans who used the Latin form, Januarius. This word is derived from Janus, the god of beginnings and endings who had two faces, one looking forward and one looking backward. There will be more looking backward next month when our annual report is completed. In the meantime, we are also going to be doing some looking forward to the year 2007 and the years beyond.
Janus was also the god of doors because a person can enter or exit through a door. How appropriate that much work went into the improvement of the entrance to the Main Library during the last several months of 2006, and that the work was finally completed in January. Professional librarians often talk about making their facilities—and the information provided by their institutions—as accessible as possible. What better way to make our building accessible than with the newly installed automatic doors? Not only is it easier for families with babies in strollers, senior citizens, or anyone with their hands full of library materials to enter and exit the building, but also we have more accommodating handicapped access, as well. The doors closest to our ramp open a full four feet wide with the bi-fold automatic doors as opposed to less than three feet with the old manual doors!
As we enter the year 2007, we will begin our strategic planning effort with nationally known consultant, Jeanne Goodrich, from Oregon. She has 30 years of experience working in public libraries and has consulted for many libraries, both large and small, from coast to coast. The Board of Trustees and its Planning Committee will meet with Ms. Goodrich at least twice this month to lay the groundwork for this process, which could take most of the year. During the course of our planning, we hope to take a community-centric look at our services and see how what we do at the Library can make Shaker Heights a better place to live, learn, and grow now and in the future.
Luren E. Dickinson,