The Brumback Library : Books and More
Over the course of the past year, countless magazines and newspapers, together with many of the major news networks, have highlighted the public library’s role as a vital community resource. Record numbers of library patrons and first-time visitors are availing themselves to the many resources their public libraries offer.
The same is true in Van Wert County. In 2014, 28,459 Brumback Library patrons set a new circulation record by borrowing 850,459 materials from Main Library and its five branches, thereby exceeding the 2013 circulation rate by 61,108.Books, eBooks, books on CD and tape, music CDs, DVDs, videos, software, periodicals, and puppets now number over 245,000 items with over 10,000 items added to the adult, children’s, reference, periodicals, and audiovisual collections this past year.
As always, we seek to nurture and sustain a love of reading, learning, and discovery. Therefore, in addition to the myriad of resources that we offer, a wide variety of programs are held throughout the year. Many of the activities are designed for children. More than twenty story time sessions are offered each week at Main Library and the branches as well as on-site story time sessions at area preschools. The Library is extremely pleased to report that over 1,800 Van Wert County children participated in our 99th Annual Summer Reading Program. Infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and school age children engaged in a wide variety of activities which included stories, songs, games, and special presentations, plus a movie and the carnival. The Young Adult Summer Reading Program had 2,800 students in grades seven through twelve. Over 4,000 individuals participated in the Adult Book Club, while 347 individuals registered for the Homebound Summer Reading Program which touches the lives of Van Wert County residents who either reside in their own homes or in area nursing homes.
Internet and wireless usage at the Brumback Library has increased greatly over the course of the past year. Internet terminals, which may be found in the Adult and Children’s Departments at Main Library and at each of the branches, provide free, high-speed Internet access as well as Microsoft Works, Word, and Excel. Wireless service is now accessible at each of our service sites too. Over 7,600 patrons used our wireless service via their laptops in 2014. Meanwhile, the Reference Department answered over 15,000 questions in 2014. These questions included a myriad of topics via in-house or telephone inquiries, plus e-mail or regular mail requests.
With regard to the Library’s facilities, several projects were completed within the past twelve months. Since it was becoming nearly impossible to maintain adequate cooling temperatures, the twenty-two-year-old air conditioning system at Main Library was replaced when its last compressor failed to work. Unfortunately, Main Library’s forty-three-year-old boiler also expired in 2014. Since the remaining twenty-two-year-old boiler could not begin to effectively heat the building by itself, two new energy-efficient boilers, designed to work in tandem, were installed. Both systems are now more efficient and cost effective. Both projects were also funded via The Library Enrichment Foundation, along with private gifts and donations, plus limited General Fund monies. Smaller projects at Main Library included electrical repairs, a variety of painting projects, minor tuck pointing to the exterior, repairs to the flat roof over the west end of the Reading Room, and the resealing/relining of the parking lot. The custodians tackled many maintenance projects too.
In addition to these projects, new computers at Main Library and the five branch sites replaced workstations and Internet terminals that were nine to fourteen years old. A subsequent software upgrade to the Library’s twenty-one-year-old automated catalog and circulation system began late in the year. Funding to upgrade the computers at our six locations was derived from General Fund monies saved over the years, while funding for our new, user-friendly catalog and circulation system was derived from a generous grant from The Van Wert County Foundation.
Much has been accomplished over the course of the past twelve months, but while the Library’s programming and usage statistics have increased, funding from the State’s Public Library Fund flatlined in 2014. Therefore, the 2015 Brumback Library Budget was painstakingly designed to take into consideration anticipated losses in funding due to the ever-widening economic changes at the State level. In order to offset these future funding declines, the size of the staff will continue to decrease. In 1992, the Library had twenty-four full-time staff members serving Main Library and three small branches. At this time, thirteen full-time and three part-time staff members cover Main Library, five branches, and a homebound delivery program for a total of 178 service hours every week. In addition, staff salaries have remained at modest levels. The Library Director has taken five voluntary salary cuts since 2001, and his salary, which was voluntarily frozen at a reduced level in 2009, will remain at the same rate through 2022 at his request.
We are most grateful to the residents of Van Wert County for their approval of the half-mill Library levy in 2010. The income from the levy has not only facilitated the purchase of print and nonprint materials, but it has also enabled the Library to physically maintain all of its buildings for the safety and well-being of staff and patrons alike. The Library’s half-mill levy will be up for renewal in 2015. Considering the fact that our major funding source from the State has been significantly declining for the past fourteen years, funds from the levy are crucial. We cannot thank the voters and taxpayers of Van Wert County enough for their continued economic support and assistance.
We believe that more area residents will avail themselves to our resources, services, and programming efforts in 2015. Books are only half of the story at the Brumback Library. Books on CD, music CDs, DVDs, videos, eBooks, an extensive local history and genealogical collection, electronic resources, and much, much more are available for patron use. Whether one is seeking information for a research project, an answer to a genealogical mystery, conducting a job search, or attending a special program, the Brumback Library exists to meet your needs. Check us out!