Summit County: At the library, demand keeps rising |

Summit County: At the library, demand keeps rising

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The Summit County Library Board is thrilled that library hours have been restored in 2010. We would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to all who helped make this possible:

• The Board of County Commissioners and county managers, who have the unenviable task of distributing limited resources among many worthy causes

• Our library staff, who continue to provide wonderful service to our ever-increasing number of library patrons even when facing budget constraints

• Our library volunteers, who

provide much-needed help behind

the scenes

• Our library patrons and supporters, who help emphasize the importance of the libraries in our community

• Other community organizations, who partner with the libraries to turn various “challenges” into opportunities

• And, everyone who helped support ballot measure 1-A, which provided critical funding for a variety of county services.

Libraries often face a catch-22 in challenging economic times – people tend to rely on the free or low-cost services provided by their libraries, and at the same time library funding is reduced. To illustrate this point, our libraries’ circulation increased approximately 10 percent from 2008 to 2009, even with the reduction in hours. While we are happy that the hours have been restored, we are still working towards a long-term solution to guarantee stable funding for our libraries in both the good times and the bad. This will allow us to continue to meet the needs of the community when the community needs our services the most.

It can be difficult to quantify the

value of our libraries; however, here is one way to estimate their benefit. Let’s say you borrow just two books per month from the library. We’ll estimate the cost of each book at $15. Based on the amount a typical taxpayer contributes to the libraries each year ($35.53 in 2008, the last year of data available), that means that for every $1 in taxes you contribute to the library, you receive approximately $10.13 of value in return. That’s a 10-to-1 ratio – and if you use more services,

the returns climb even higher.

In addition, rather than threatening our libraries, the age of technology has only complemented our services and expanded our reach. Of course we have books, but our libraries also offer a wide range of online products and services. The libraries’ downloadable services allow patrons to download audio books, videos, movies, music and eBooks at any time from anywhere in the world. If you don’t have access to a personal computer, all three library locations also have stations where patrons can download these resources to a personal device using the libraries’ fast and free Internet service. The libraries also offer free internet access (both wired and wireless), free access to online databases ranging from auto repair to health care, and an online service which allows patrons to directly request books from other Western Slope libraries.

Speaking of library services, we would also like to thank the Friends of the Summit County Libraries and the Summit County Library Foundation, as well as all those who support these organizations. We have consistently relied upon them to provide much-needed additional funding for some of our most popular services: everything from children’s story hours to free wireless Internet access, and from downloadable materials to additional books, DVDs, and magazines.

Today, libraries and librarians are more relevant than ever, providing a 24/7 information delivery service. Libraries’ multi-faceted, multicultural and multilingual resources are providing millions of patrons nationwide a bridge to their best conceivable future. And, of course, admission is free. Again, we would like to thank the entire community for supporting our Summit County Libraries. If you haven’t been into your local library or visited the library website lately, we encourage you to check it out (no pun intended). You just might be surprised!

Amy Priegel is president of the Summit County Library Board.

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