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HENNEPIN COUNTY LIBRARY CONTINUES TREND OF OUTSTANDING USE, INNOVATION IN 2009
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In 2009, Hennepin County Library customers checked out more than 16.6 million items — one of the highest public library circulation rates in the nation. There were more than 15.5 million visits to the website and more than 5.6 million in-person visits to Hennepin County's 41 libraries. More than 233,000 adults, teens, and children attended library programs in 2009.
The library system's two catalogs were combined, resulting in one catalog of 5 million books, CDs, DVDs, and other items — the 12th largest public library collection in the U.S. The library network consolidation was completed, bringing all 41 libraries onto the same technology platform. Several policies, including fee and fine, customer use and lending rules, were unified.
"As the most visible service provided by the County, the Hennepin County Library also remains one of the most successful and widely used by our residents," said Commissioner Mike Opat, chair of the Hennepin County Board. "The County Board is committed to continuing the public's significant investment in the Library, and congratulates Director Thompson and the library staff on a very successful year."
Following are some highlights of Hennepin County Library service in 2009:
NEW DIRECTOR, NEW INITIATIVES
After a nationwide search for a new director, former Deputy Director Lois Langer Thompson was named the new director of Hennepin County Library on Feb. 10. Thompson has more than 20 years experience at the Library.
Capital projects headlined the year's new initiatives. Renovation of Northeast and Nokomis libraries began, with grand openings projected in 2011. To accommodate customers while the libraries are closed, hours at Roosevelt and St. Anthony libraries were expanded. Work progressed on the new Plymouth and Maple Grove libraries (scheduled to open in 2010), and development discussions on Brooklyn Park, Webber Park, Excelsior and Walker libraries continued.
Green partnerships were a prominent part of the landscape at Hennepin County Library in 2009. Hennepin County Library, Hennepin County Environmental Services, and Hennepin County Property Services collaborated on three "Cool County Green Expos." The library also partnered with Xcel Energy to offer very popular Power Check energy meters for check-out. Environmental features are among many design highlights of the new Plymouth and Maple Grove libraries.
OUT OF SCHOOL TIME
During the fall semester, there were more than 4,000 student visits to the newly-organized Homework Hub, which is now supervised by tutors and staffed by 100 trained volunteers at nine libraries. Online homework assistance also is available.
JOBS AND SMALL BUSINESS SUPPORT
A new Jobs & Small Business Center opened at the Southdale Library, joining other centers open at Brookdale, Central, East Lake, and North Regional libraries. Because of the economic downturn, hundreds of customers used the centers to search for job openings, write resumes, and learn how to improve their job skills.
The University of Minnesota's College of Continuing Education, in partnership with Hennepin County and Hennepin County Library, presented short courses at Central and Ridgedale libraries in areas such as human resources, accounting, project management, and writing.
To strengthen the support of Hennepin County Library, the Library Foundation of Hennepin County began coordinating the independent Library Friends groups in Hennepin County. In 2009, 2700 Friends of the Library donated 10,000 hours of volunteer time to Hennepin County Library. The Friends offer support as library ambassadors in the community, as volunteers in their libraries, and as donors for programs and enhancements in the local community libraries.
The Library Foundation exceeded its annual financial and programmatic goals for 2009. With the support of 5,000 members and donors, the Foundation granted $2,037,000 to Hennepin County Library.
More volunteers than ever — 1800 adults and teens — helped out at their libraries. In 2009, volunteers contributed more than 62,000 hours of service to Hennepin County Library.
Many community groups and organizations, including the Comcast Foundation, North Star Therapy Animals, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Best Buy Children's Foundation, Brooklyn Center Schools 21st Century Grant Program, the Loft Literary Center, the McKnight Foundation, and the Science Museum of Minnesota, collaborated on programs at Hennepin County libraries.
AN AWARD-WINNING YEAR
Hennepin County Library received a National Association of Counties (NACo) award for “A Library System’s Response to the Economy,” which highlighted the library’s jobs and small business resources; Freedom Ticket, Outreach Service’s resource for correctional facilities residents; and partnering with Hennepin County Taxpayer Services and the Minnesota Home Ownership Center to present foreclosure information workshops.
Hennepin County Library also received the American Institute of Architects 2009 AIA/ALA Library Building Awards for Hennepin County Library – Central in downtown Minneapolis.
Hennepin County Library was cited in "Building an Americanization Movement for the Twenty-first Century: A Report to the President of the United States From the Task Force on New Americans," which highlighted exceptional programs across the country that welcome the immigrant community and make recommendations for future directions.
Other awards included an IMLS National Leadership Grant for Supporting Early Literacy Learning: A Model Partnership between Children's Museum and Public Libraries, and a Minnesota History Award for Central Library's Minnesota Sesquicentennial exhibition, "Minnovation: 150 Years of Ingenuity."
PARTNERING WITH CUSTOMERS
Hennepin County Library is nationally recognized as one of the top libraries in the United States. Ever mindful of its role as a national leader in the world of public library service, Hennepin County Library will continue to innovate and provide high quality library service in response to its customers. This past year, the library solicited and incorporated suggestions from residents, including materials to add to the collection, community input for construction projects, feedback on moving forward with Friends of the Library groups, and adding hours at Central.
Hennepin County Library's diverse customers often comment why they love the library:
- "We like going to the library," said a six-year-old girl who reads chapter books, and her four-year-old brother, who enjoys baseball stories. They donated proceeds from their summer lemonade stand to the Edina Library.
- One elementary school girl said she loved the Golden Valley Library and went there every day. Her friend said, "I wish I could live in this library!"
- A customer was delighted to learn that audiobooks can be downloaded to an MP3 player. He said, "Then I can listen to them when I walk. I feel like a kid in a candy shop! Libraries are the best thing there is. I sure hope that they are being supported well."
- “Just wanted to let you know what a fantastic tool the ALLDATA automotive repair resource is… I have told all my friends who work on their cars about it. Thank you so much for providing these kinds of resources for the public!!! You just wouldn't believe how helpful something like this is. Thanks again.”
- After attending a library co-sponsored "Foreclosure Information Workshop," a couple commented that the workshop helped them realize that a company promising to save their house from foreclosure was scamming them, and how grateful they were to get help through the library.
- "I want to commend you on your wonderful collections and services…I often have several books checked out at a time and sometimes also check out CDs. Love the breadth and depth of the collection. I recently used ILL (Interlibrary Loan) for an article from a rather obscure journal and was delighted to receive it in the mail. Thank you for all you do for the community."