4/25/15

THE FUTURE AGAIN by Jon Walker

I am proud of our local libraries. This includes almost everything about them: the buildings, the study and meeting spaces, the books and other mate/rials, and the computers and learning tools. But mainly I am inspired by the people. Those who work here and those who use libraries: the women and men, the teens and tweens, the children and infants.

I have been part of the Pueblo City-County Library District for just over ten years now. Among my first tasks when I initially arrived back in 2004 was overseeing a study of our community and our libraries, and creating a consensus long-range plan to move PCCLD forward. The goal was to provide the best possible public library service for our community.

In subsequent years, we focused on offering lifelong learning resources, access to information in all formats, well-equipped and maintained facilities, highly-trained employees, and more. The result has been an explosion in library use here. In 2004, 877,299 people visited our libraries. 1,432,303 did so in 2014. 35,162 people attended library programs and events in 2004. 182,406 participated in 2014. 1,047,515 books and other materials were checked out from our libraries in 2004. 2,484,858 circulated in 2014. Our libraries have offered and our community has responded.

I attribute our successes to many things, including determination and luck. To a major extent, however, our accomplishments are due to carefully considered planning, steadfast follow through, and looking for every opportunity to move forward positively.

Our planning processes begin with methodical consideration of our community: who it is, what it wants, what it needs. We examine our resources, both realized and potential. We follow trends and standards in libraries and information science because it is important to ensure our community is well served according to contemporary criteria. We discuss these things, and work with employees and stakeholders to reach agreement on what it is important for us to do. We keep in close touch with our constituencies watching for favorable opportunities. Then, we do it.

We are entering into a new planning period now. We are looking inward and outward with the intent to fashion a vision and a path to take PCCLD to new heights of accomplishment and service to our community. As we contemplate PCCLD’s new strategic plan, we are interviewing individuals in our community, conducting surveys, reviewing our strengths and weaknesses, and looking for favorable conditions to realize the finest libraries imaginable. Our community deserves it. We aim to deliver it.

CHECK IT OUT: THE LIBRARY’S LAPTOP AND TABLET LENDING PROGRAM by Jon Walker

In 2011, the Pueblo City-County Library District (PCCLD) began doing something different. We started to check out laptops and tablets to customers. The project was originally funded with special grant money. The program has continued to grow and prosper over time. Today, it is a regular part of library service.

PCCLD’s laptop and tablet lending program is similar to what our libraries have been doing for many years with books. Loaning books was a natural result of the public library’s mission to ensure everyone enjoys convenient access to information. The venerable book was the principal form of recording and exchanging knowledge and information for centuries. In this respect, the computer is the new book in today’s digital age in American society. It is important for the library to provide easy use of modern information tools resources like laptops and tablets. This helps level the playing field for the members of our community regardless of socio-economic status or means.

Borrowing a laptop or tablet from the library is free. This is significant. There is a clear competitive edge in school and otherwise for individuals who have simpler access to such tools. Studies by the Pew Research Center show more than one-third of Americans were without their own mobile Internet services in 2014. PCCLD’s laptop and tablet checkout program helps narrow somewhat the so-called digital divide separating haves from have-nots.

PCCLD’s laptop and tablet lending service is popular. Use of these devices has grown from 839 in 2011 to an annual average of about 3,800 for the past few years. We expect even greater use in 2015. Clearly, this is an important part of the modern public library. Look for PCCLD to continue to grow and develop this program now and in the future.

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 ...