Staff encouraged by community support
WHITMAN — About half the residents in town hold library cards at the Whitman Public Library, and the staff hopes to increase those numbers.
There are 6,855 registered borrowers at the library, Director Andrea Rounds told the Board of Library Trustees on Tuesday, Aug. 11. With 14,696 residents, and an age limit of only 5 years old to get a library card, or about 50 percent saturation, Rounds said the figure is encouraging.
The circulation files are purged every year, she noted, so the numbers reflect active library users. The number does not reflect the number of children under age 5 whose parents use the library to check out children’s books to read aloud, or who bring their children to library events.
“We’re doing great,” she said. “We have lots of people coming into the building. We’re very busy and this shows how busy we are.”
The library’s meeting room facilities were also used 517 times over the past 12 months, according to the report the library submits to the Mass. Board of Library Commissioners to qualify the facility for state aid.
Rounds noted Whitman’s circulation figures remain on par with all other libraries in the Old Colony Library Network. Growth is also continuing in e-Books and use of online materials.
“Circulation figures are slightly down, but that’s good — the economy’s improving and, as everybody knows, when the economy improves we see a little bit of a drop.”
With reductions in school library staffs following budget cuts, the trustees anticipate greater reliance on the public library’s facilities and programs.
One way to increase the number of library card holders will be via a “remote” sign-up drive at a table outside the rear entrance during the Touch-a-Truck program, which wraps up the summer reading program at 5:30 p.m., Wednesday, Aug. 19.
Police Chief Scott Benton has arranged for a “Bearcat” armored SWAT vehicle to be on site for the program, joining Fire Department, DPW and other municipal vehicles for children to explore. The Mix 104.1 ice cream truck will also be on hand.
Holy Ghost Church is donating use of the parish parking lot for the public’s use during the event.
With the conclusion of summer reading, Rounds and her staff are turning their focus to the fall.
“The numbers for the summer blow everything else out of the water,” Rounds said before the trustees meeting as she outlined some of the coming programs and events. “We had 886 participants in programs last month alone.”
The fall will be starting with a bicycle and pedestrian safety program at 1:30 p.m., Friday, Sept. 4 — the first half-day on the school calendar.
“Selectman Dan Salvucci is a big fan of this,” she told trustees. “He was in here talking to me about how it’s a real problem in the community and how he sees kids at the four-way stop in the center of town and they just dart out into the street.”
Whitman Police DARE and School Resource Officer Kevin Harrington will attend, decked out in his cycling gear, to talk to children about safety and the rules of the road. He will also read a story during the event. No registration is required for the program.
The Police Department will donate a limited number of bike helmets for a giveaway feature and the Old Colony Planning Council is donating a larger amount of reflectors and bike lights and bells.
In other business, the trustees were updated of staffing changes.
Youth Services Librarian Nicole Monk is leaving Whitman Library to pursue other opportunities. Her last day is Friday, Aug. 21.
The position has been posted with applicant interviews scheduled to begin in September. Meanwhile, a second interview is scheduled for Friday, Aug. 14 with a candidate for the position of assistant director to replace Molly Klenowski who left in July to work in another community.
Michael Robin has been hired to fill a part-time library technician vacancy. Robin, in the process of moving from Connecticut to Walpole, has “quite a few years of working and volunteering in children’s rooms in other libraries and several years of working off-Broadway on the stage,” Rounds said. He will work every Tuesday night and every Saturday during the school year, starting before September.
The library will be closed Sept. 8 to 10 to allow ServePro to work on water damage caused by ice dams last winter and subsequent inspection of that work to see if more needs to be scheduled.