Each year the Indiana State Library requires all public libraries to complete a comprehensive annual report, which is nearly 100 pages long, and covers all the things the library offers to the public, how often they were used, the programs we offer to the public and how well they were attended, the state of our finances, and much, much more. It gives us an excellent opportunity to take stock of what we have accomplished, where we can improve, and how we have improved from the year before.
You may remember that I usually shared some of the results of the report in the newspaper each year, and I am doing what I can to make the results available to the public this year as well.
Consider this your library’s annual report card:
In 2022 the library was visited 41,177 times.
The number of books checked out was 66,818, compared to 51,763 in 2021.
We checked out 30,264 children’s books, compared to 20,990 in 2021.
Downloadable E-book usage also increased: 17,667 in 2022 compared to 9,650 in 2021.
Our 12 public computers were used 2,798 times, which is a little more than the 2,743 used in 2021.
Our staff was able to provide answers to 5,188 reference questions, and provided 459 books, borrowed at patron request from other libraries through the states’ interlibrary loan system.
In addition to nine weeks of summer reading, the library offered 411 programs last year for all ages, on a wide variety of subjects, with a total attendance of 4,731 attendees.
The library is open 2,975 hours per year. Internet access is available around the perimeter of the building 24/7, and we have increased our broadband capability in the past year to create more accessibility.
The Bookmobile brings library access to schools, day cares, and a wide variety of other community centers throughout the county 31 hours per week, including accessibility to library services through weekly visits to Freedom, Coal City, Gosport, Cunot, Cataract, and Patricksburg.
While the collection is always growing, we currently offer 60,199 books, 9,193 videos, 6,293 audiobooks, and an almost limitless number of downloadable books, audiobooks, movies, and magazines.
In addition, we have internet hot spots and audio CD players for public check-out.
Owen County Public Library does not charge late fees, and library cards are free to Owen County residents.
We offer copying (including items downloaded from cell phones), faxing, and scanning.
The courthouse often sends people our way to access many necessary forms, documents, and website usage for legal matters. We recently received a Kiosk that offers legal help with housing issues. This is just the first of many legal helps that are to be added to the kiosk throughout the year.
There are at least 6 rooms of varying sizes available for public reservation and use.
Free tutoring is available for various ages and subjects, and the libraries’ highly successful Adult Education department produces an average of 40 graduates of the high school equivalency exam each year , as well as certifications for a variety of work-related skills. These Owen County students are moving directly into jobs or are working on certification while they are working.
We are very proud that the library was able to bring back the Free tax service this year after a one-year absence. We know that this is a very needed and appreciated service to the community.
Since the move into the current location in 1997, he library has never once asked to raise the tax rate so much as a penny, not even to take on the much-needed renovation in 2016, when we re-roofed, replaced the heating and cooling, revamped the plumbing, and solved many structural problems that had plagued us for years in addition to a complete remodel and addition.
The library has operated every year in the black, and continues to do so, with each department operating within its budget. This includes a current hiring freeze to ensure that we stay within our 2023 budget.
The library, under the leadership of our Board of Trustees, voluntarily instituted a system of Internal controls years before the state instructed libraries to do so. The comprehensive system of checks and balances we created was complimented by the State Board of Accounts auditor’s office, and they asked permission to use it as a template for other public libraries.
We have prided ourselves on wisely investing any extra money we had left over each year into a Library improvement reserve fund, which is in place to cover emergencies, or any future needs that may arise.
The recently built library community pavilion was so far built with funds from two extremely generous donors, as well as a sizable grant from the Community Foundation, and gifts from various members of the community. To this point, no taxpayer funds were spent on it at all. Depending on our fund-raising efforts going forward, if more funding is needed for the features we hope to add to the pavilion, we have resolved to use the interest earned from the funds invested in our Library Improvement Reserve Fund. We hope this demonstrates our determination to handle taxpayer funds carefully and responsibly.
Owen County was one of the earliest counties in Indiana to institute a public library. We think that is something to be proud of, that this community has long held libraries to be a thing of value, and importance. We thank you so much for your patronage and support.
Director, Owen County Public Library