12/10/13

HAPPY NEW YEAR by Jon Walker

2013 was a grand year at the Pueblo City-County Library District. Record numbers of people visited libraries. Attendance at library programs and events was at the highest level in the history of the library district. Use of library digital resources continued to increase. A huge quantity of books and other library materials was checked out. The strong use of libraries in Pueblo County is a clear indicator that our community is passionate about literacy and lifelong learning.

We continue to work strategically at PCCLD to remain fully engaged with our customers, and we have several key initiatives in mind for 2014 to help ensure we stay on track. Here are a few of the highlights anticipated for 2014. Leading the way is our plan to open three newly-constructed libraries in underserved areas, including on the St. Charles Mesa, on the City of Pueblo’s East Side, and in the Greenhorn Valley in southern Pueblo County. In addition, we will complete remodeling of the Rawlings Library’s 2nd floor. We also will continue to move our library into the 21st century by offering thousands of streaming movies, TV shows, music albums, and audiobooks free to our users on their mobile devices, smart TVs, and more via a new service called hoopla digital. Finally, we will update and replace all of the public-use computers and update the audio-visual technology in public meeting rooms to the most current products available. I feel certain that these and other goals for the new year will keep our library moving forward to be the best that we can be.

I am proud that our community remains passionate about its public library. We work hard to keep the needs and wants of our customers as our top priority. I truly believe that 2014 will be our best year, yet!

11/27/13

REFLECTIONS ON THIS YEAR AND NEXT

As 2013 comes to a close, it is a good time to reflect on the past year at PCCLD as well as what is to come in 2014.

2013 has been a year of change for the library district. Early in the year, new automated materials handling, customer self-service and other related equipment was installed in the libraries. This equipment has helped free valuable staff time. For example, now more than 95 percent of all checkouts are occurring at customer self-service stations, and nearly all checkins are being handled by sophisticated machines. One cannot say enough about the many staff who worked diligently and successfully to accomplish the new model for service. These changes this year are enabling even more impactful enhancements to service in 2014, namely the addition of three new libraries.

PCCLD broke ground on three new libraries earlier this fall. Each of these facilities is scheduled to open to the public later in 2014. The new libraries each will be located in underserved areas of Pueblo County—on the City of Pueblo’s East Side, on the St. Charles Mesa, and in the Greenhorn Valley in southern Pueblo County. Importantly, staffing for the new libraries will come in large part by shifting some employees from current libraries to the newly-built locations. This reallocation of staff resources could not have been contemplated but for the successful implementation of the time-savings equipment and processes touched upon above.

2013 and2014 mark a tipping point in time for local library services. A new model for service and the addition of three new public libraries in the district will place our community in a stronger position as we compete with others in terms of issues related to overall quality of life, education, and public resources. Specifically, these changes and additions also represent the fulfillment in some important measure of a long-range strategic vision that has been guiding us for several years to make greater Pueblo and the Pueblo City-County Library District the best that it can be.

10/10/13

ADJUSTING TO IMPROVE

We are making adjustments at the library district. This is nothing new. Libraries have always been evolving in order to better meet customer expectations for fast, friendly, and effective service. But the current changes are unique to today.

Our library customers have seen several innovations in the past year. Leading the way are new stations for checking-out books and other library materials, and new ways for checking-in, too. These certainly have made their marks on the delivery of library service.

We made these modifications with a purpose in mind. The new check-out and check-in routines take less staff time, reduce the distance between staff and customers, and eliminate waste in our delivery of service. A recent benchmark analysis shows how much the new processes have helped lessen the burden on staff resources and improve service performance. Several unnecessary steps involving a number of routine tasks have been eliminated. Among the results are better, more accurate, and speedier services for customers, and less job monotony and improved ergonomics for staff. Importantly, we also have freed up staff time by embracing these leaner concepts and eliminating waste.

Streamlining operations and freeing staff resources is important for the library district’s future. We will open three additional libraries later next year. Staffing for these new libraries will come in some large measure by reallocating some employees from one of the current libraries to one of the three new libraries. We would not have been able to afford to operate the new libraries without this shift in staffing.

Our goal is straightforward. We aim to provide the best possible public library service to our community. The additional libraries on Pueblo’s East Side, on the St. Charles Mesa, and in the Greenhorn Valley are an important part of our strategy. We certainly appreciate your continued support as we make the adjustments necessary to continue to improve and expand library services to best fulfill our mission.

9/27/13

ALL PUEBLO READS

It is October, and time for All Pueblo Reads. For the ninth straight year, the Pueblo City-County Library District is pleased to present this annual series of events to our community which focuses on the themes of a great book. We are honored to offer The Help by Kathryn Stockett as this year’s selection. It is our hope and belief that this book will resonate with the residents of Pueblo County.
The Help has been on bestseller lists for longer than any other hardcover fiction title since The Da Vinci Code. It was USA Today’s 2009 Book of the Year and has been published in 37 countries around the world. The movie-version of the book is a 2011 film based on the novel that was adapted for the screen and directed by Tate Taylor.

The story revolves around three extraordinary women whose determination to start a clandestine project forever changes a town, and the way women, mothers, daughters, caregivers and friends view one another. A modern classic, The Help has been a cultural touchstone for the millions of readers who have cheered on Skeeter, laughed with Minny and hissed at Hilly. The noble and strong Aibileen has become a heroine for countless fans. A deeply moving novel filled with poignancy, humor and hope, The Help is a timeless and universal story about the lines we abide by, and the ones we don’t.
The Friends of the Library are supporting the project again this year with a generous gift, which has made it possible to bring Stockett to Pueblo for public programs, with our featured event being her appearance at the Rawlings Library on Sunday, November 10. You will not want to miss the opportunity to meet this renowned author in person, hear her speak and have her sign your books. In addition, this year we also will host Tate Taylor, the movie's director, for the special program presentation on November 10.
Please join me in reading this great book and participating in many of the nearly 100 events made possible by All Pueblo Reads.

8/16/13

EXTENDING THE LIBRARY IN THE COMMUNITY

The library district is extending itself more in the community. Early this year, we unveiled designs for three new libraries. Groundbreaking on construction for each of the three is scheduled to take place before the end of this summer. The new East Side Library will be a source of information and a meeting place for the approximately 15,000 nearby residents. The Greenhorn Valley Library will serve those living in the southern-most area of the county. The St. Charles Mesa Library will provide for the nearly 10,000 people who live in this area.

This commitment on the part of the Pueblo City-County Library District to expand to these underserved areas is acting on our belief that these libraries will become one of the most important, if not the most important, public outposts in their respective parts of the county. The design of the new libraries will incorporate many ideas suggested by residents, such as more natural light, large community meeting rooms, areas for young visitors, public computer resources, and plenty of books and other library materials. Other features will include comfortable spaces of study and contemplation, a café area for light refreshments, and, of course, well-trained staff to assist customers.

We know people still crave good reading. Our new libraries will have great collections of books to check out. Large numbers of people continue to visit our current libraries to check out library materials. Over one million people visited our libraries and nearly two million items were checked out last year from the present public libraries, including Barkman, Lamb, the Library @ the Y, Pueblo West, and Rawlings. The demand for free access to information, both digital and paper, remains strong. Not surprisingly, once people get access to that information, they tend to want more.

Books and reading are a big part of the library’s future, but not the only part. The new libraries also will provide spaces conducive for study, group meetings, and simply places for people to gather to freely access information and exchange ideas. While “more books” is a common request from customers, the libraries both now and in the future will provide more than books, including everything from help with resumes and job searching to health information for lay people to helping kids find a comfortable place after school to study and learn.

Our libraries have continuously innovated in order to remain relevant and important. The Internet has made traditional encyclopedias, maps, and any number of once-essential paper documents less relevant by providing this content online. Importantly, public libraries have become central places for convenient and free Internet access. Our new libraries will provide WiFi access and plenty of public computers, including the latest in wireless digital devices. Part of our mission is to insure that free access to information is available for all members of our community, and in today’s world this clearly extends to the Internet and newer wireless devices. So, the new libraries will have digital tablets and wireless computers for check out plus study rooms equipped with the latest in collaboration technologies.

This is an important time for libraries. This expansion of library services represents a significant step in ensuring access to a better quality of life for everyone. Construction of the new libraries is scheduled to be completed during the summer of 2014, about one year from now. For more information, see www.pueblolibrary.org/newlibraries.

7/12/13

ROBUST PUBLIC LIBRARIES EQUAL THRIVING LOCAL COMMUNITIES

The citizens of Pueblo County hold their public libraries in high esteem. How do I know? People are voting with their feet. Last year, in 2012, about 1.1 million visitors used our local libraries. So far in the first six months of the current year, we are fifteen percent ahead of last year’s record-setting pace.

We believe this is an indicator of good things to come for our community for at least a few important reasons. First, as Thomas Jefferson advocated, an educated populace is vital to the success of our democracy. This bodes well for us as more people in our community than ever before are availing themselves of the library’s educational and cultural resources. Second, we know that a higher general level of education is a necessary prerequisite for vibrant economic growth and employment. As use of the public library increases, we improve the prospects for an improved quality of life for all of us. Third, people take pride in their public libraries. Libraries usually stand at the center of a neighborhood, signifying the importance the community places in the value of lifelong learning.

The increasing use of our libraries is great news for all of us. It is a testament that our community’s future moving forward is bright. Our public libraries serve to connect the local learning setting with the global resources of information and knowledge and, in so doing, help make Pueblo a better place to live. As our libraries prosper, so does our community.



6/16/13

SUMMER READING

We are in the midst of another great summer. The Pueblo City-County Library District is sponsoring programs for all ages throughout the summer months designed to encourage and celebrate the joy of reading. The project kicked-off in June and continues well into August. 

We are pleased that the summer reading program has continued to grow in popularity in recent years. Last year a record number of people participated in the library’s summer reading program. So far, it looks like another top-notch summer is unfolding in 2013. I hope you already are participating. But it is not too late to join in the fun. There are programs for adults, young adults and children. 

Of course, reading is fundamentally important for all ages. But for younger people studies show that it is very likely vital to the quality of their later life. Simply stated, the better you read, the more apt you are to succeed. This summer’s library program is designed especially to present programming, events and activities to promote and encourage reading among our youth. Our goal is simple. We aim to keep kids reading all summer long. We don’t focus on assigned reading nor reading as work. Instead, we emphasize reading for fun. Read comics. Read Manga. Read graphic novels. Read fun magazines. Read whatever is entertaining. Just read.

Why is it important for young people to read for fun during the summer? The short answer is the simple act of exercising reading skills during the summer helps keep them sharper for the next academic school year. The more you read, the better you read. 

This helps reduce what educators commonly refer to as “summer setback.” This is the phenomenon whereby during the summer break away from school, young people tend to lose the learning momentum from the prior school year and can forget significant pieces of what was learned. Scholarly research supports this notion, and, also, that this decline can be more pronounced with reading skills. Evidence shows that those who are better readers are those who read more, and when reading slows or stops during the summer, then skills atrophy. In order to help prevent this setback, the library district’s summer program features events and activities designed to promote and encourage reading among our youth.

I hope that you and the young people in your life are reading this summer. The library’s summer reading program can help, and it’s free, it’s fun and it’s important.

5/16/13

Check Out eBooks

The Pueblo City-County Library District now provides a robust and growing collection of thousands and thousands of eBooks. These are books that you can check out and read from your eReader, smartphone, tablet or computer. The library’s eBook catalog includes classics and best sellers, esoteric titles and hot titles, fiction and non-fiction, as well as choices for children and adults. Use of eBooks is free to library card holders.


Access to library eBooks is pretty simple. Go to the library’s website at www.pueblolibrary.org. Roll over the “Search” button found toward the top, left corner of the screen and click on the “eBooks, eAudiobooks & eMusic” link (yes, the library provides e-versions of music, audiobooks, and, even, magazines, too!). Helpful hints on eBook use are provided on the resulting web page, including how to set up a variety of popular digital devices in order to facilitate use of library eBooks. Most current digital devices work with library eBooks, such as Android tablets and smartphones, Nooks and Kindles, iPads, iPhones and other Apple devices, and more.

I loaded my first library eBook onto my Android smartphone quite a number of months ago. Since then, I have regularly enjoyed reading digital books from my cell phone. Believe me, this is something that was somewhat unexpected. As recently as only a couple of years ago, I did not really envision a time when reading books on my cell phone would be an activity that I would enjoy. But I do! It works, and it works surprisingly well.

Using library eBooks is also convenient. I can search for what I want, check it out online, and download it to my phone on the spot. It means that books from the library are available to me 24-hours each day, seven days per week, whenever and wherever I want access. All I need is WiFi or cell access. And, because I already carry my cell phone with me everywhere I go, once I have checked out an eBook from the library, I nearly always have my current favorite reading material handy.

I encourage you to check out a library eBook. I think you will like it, too.

4/8/13

YOUR HELP IS NEEDED!

The library district is moving forward in a big way, and we need your help. As trustee Jim Stuart recently pointed out, we are about to embark upon perhaps the largest single expansion in the history of our community with the addition of three new full-service public libraries: the Pueblo East Side Library, the St. Charles Mesa Library, and the Greenhorn Valley Library.


The project to build, furnish and equip all three new libraries requires a $6.1 million capital investment. The library district has more than ninety percent of the necessary funds in place for the new libraries. However, we need another $535,000 to “top off” the fundraising and provide the money required to complete the project.

We need your help to raise this money. The public library represents among the greatest of American traditions with its focus on lifelong learning and open access to information for all. It has been called the most democratic of institutions. In terms of “Return on Investment,” a 2009 study concluded that public libraries return five dollars or more for every one dollar invested (http://www.lrs.org/documents/closer_look/roi.pdf).

Libraries are often viewed as an important measure of a community’s cultural success. If this is true, Pueblo County is on the move. Our libraries in Pueblo County have never been more popular. More people are visiting our libraries than ever before. More books and other materials are being checked out from our libraries than ever before. More people are attending library programs and events than ever before. The need has never been greater than now.

Please help us provide these new libraries for Pueblo County. To contribute, contact the library’s development office at 562-5605, or go to www.pueblolibrary.org and click on “Donate.”



3/27/13

THREE NEW PUBLIC LIBRARIES FOR PUEBLO COUNTY



For the past several months, a team of professionals associated with the library district have been working diligently on a project to build three new public libraries in Pueblo County. The new libraries, once completed, will be located, respectively, on the City of Pueblo’s East Side, on the St. Charles Mesa in an unincorporated area east of the City of Pueblo, and in the Greenhorn Valley in the Colorado City Metropolitan District.

We remain on track to break ground on construction of the new libraries later this summer in 2013. The libraries are scheduled to open to the public about mid-year in 2014.

To date, quite a bit of progress has been made on the new libraries’ project. Here is an overview of the status of the project:

• The sites have been determined. On the City of Pueblo’s East Side, the new library will be located at the corner of 7th Street and Monument Avenue. This is near many businesses, churches, and schools in the area. It is a bustling location, and will make a great spot for a beautiful new public library. On the St. Charles Mesa, the library will be at 24 ½ Lane and CO HWY 50. The location is immediately north of the highway, west of a Pueblo Rural Fire District station there, and nearby some School District 70 facilities. This is a busy area on the Mesa, and should be a great spot for a new library. The Greenhorn Valley site is immediately adjacent to CO HWY 165 at Cibola Drive (County Road 192) at the east end of Greenhorn Meadows Park. It is a beautiful location and should allow convenient access to a wonderful library for people living in this area of southern Pueblo County. We now are working to finalize the entitlements process so a construction permit can be issued for each of the sites by summer.

• The architect has completed schematic design for the new libraries. They will be full-service public libraries with attractive features uniquely adapted to each of their three respective communities. Each library will be approximately 7,500 square feet in size, and also will include plenty of books and other library materials, public-use computers and other information technology, comfortable spaces for study and learning, and community meeting rooms for people to gather together to exchange ideas. The architect, Jim Bershof with OZ Architecture, has done superb work designing the libraries to fit with the singular qualities of each of the three individual communities. The next step in the design process is to solicit final comments from stakeholders, then proceed with the development of construction documents.

• Pueblo-based H. W. Houston Construction Company will build the new libraries. They are on-track to begin construction on the new libraries later this summer at the determined sites, once the construction documents are completed, the construction permits issued, and final subcontractor bidding agreed upon.

• The financial plan is ready to go. In total, this is approximately a $6.2 million capital project to build and equip all three libraries. The good news is that 95% of the funds are now in-place and available for the project. Nevertheless, we continue to work to “top off” the funding necessary to complete the libraries. About $350,000 remains to be raised. The Pueblo Library Foundation is working diligently now to complete the necessary fundraising.

The Pueblo City-County Library District is pleased to reach ever closer to our goal of ensuring free and open access to information for everyone in our service area. Each year, more and more people are using our libraries to checkout record amounts of library books and other materials, and to participate in a variety of library-hosted educational and cultural programs and events. For those interested in supporting any or all of the new libraries, please contact Midori Clark, the library’s director of development, at 562-5605 or midori.clark@pueblolibrary.org. Your support is needed to complete the new libraries!

2/6/13

BECOMING OUR BEST

The Pueblo City-County Library District aspires to provide the best possible public library service to our community. In 2012, all key measures showed the library district moving clearly in this positive direction. We checked out a record number of books and other library materials, more people visited our libraries than ever before, and the number of people attending library programs and events were at an all-time high.


2013 should also be a great year. We have several important initiatives in mind for the current year to help ensure the library district continues to provide the best possible library service to our community. Here are a few of the things you can expect to see during the course of the year from your public library:

• Unveiling changes to improve the means by which books and other library materials are checked out and in.

• Increasing efforts to assist with childhood and adult literacy.

• Digitizing historical records found in the library’s collections in order to improve access and preservation.

• Implementing a call center, so that customers who make a telephone call to the library will be greeted by a “live” person and not a recording.

• Adding new software to allow customers to more easily find the materials they seek within the library’s collections.

• Beginning construction on three new libraries in the county later this year—on Pueblo’s East Side, on the St. Charles Mesa, and in the Greenhorn Valley.

I believe you will agree that 2013 should be another momentous year for the Pueblo City-County Library District.

1/7/13

Improving Library Service

2012 was a banner year for the library district. More than 1,800,000 books and other library materials were checked out to individual members of the public during the course of the last twelve months. This is the most checkouts in the history of the library district. In fact, the use of our libraries in the county has more than doubled in the past ten years.


Without doubt this is a splendid accomplishment. But along with this success has come challenges. Keeping up with the continuously increasing volume of use can be taxing. We have studied the matter to determine how to stay up with the pace of dramatically growing use. Of course, we need to do this within the framework of the limited resources available to the library district.

As a result, we are unveiling some changes. These are designed to maintain an excellent record of customer service and better manage the growing business. The modifications include book returns to automatically check-in books, specialized equipment to mechanize the sorting of returned books and speed their re-shelving, and public-use kiosks to simplify the customer check-out process. We are even streamlining the method for getting a library card.

Planning for these changes commenced in earnest last year. Library employees and contractors have been busily making preparations for the past several weeks. This has resulted in some short-term inconveniences. Most notably, the Barkman and Lamb Libraries were temporarily closed for the month of January. The Rawlings and Pueblo West Libraries also have been undergoing some refurbishing, which has caused more minor interim burdens at these two locations.

We are excited to unveil the refreshed service conveniences to the public beginning in February. There likely will be a small learning curve as library employees and the library-using public becomes accustomed to some of the new features. These changes should allow the library district to continue to provide the best possible library service to the public at the least expense.



LOCAL HISTORY AT THE LIBRARY by Jon Walker

Our community enjoys a rich and diverse history.  This is the story of the people and events helping to shape the saga of this region over ...