I’ve just celebrated my first anniversary at Keene Memorial Library and of all the things I have learned working for a public library, the one issue that stands out is the lack of awareness or knowledge of what value a public library brings to a community.

To bring light to the amazing work the staff at Keene Memorial Library does for our community, I will be writing a weekly article detailing library services, programs, and activities in hopes of enlightening the community about the hard work and dedication that happens every day in our library.

Through providing materials, services, and education, the library helps the community improve both unemployment rates and literacy rates. These listed improvements directly affect every member of the community. From the doctor to the school teacher to the cashier to the students/children of the community, each person receives some benefit of having a public library. Whether they directly use the library or they benefit through others using the library, everyone reaps the rewards.

We help reduce unemployment rates by providing job search tools online; partnering with Workforce Development on help for resumes, applications, NE works use, and interviews; providing internet and computers to complete job applications and resumes; and providing meeting space for local organizations that provide job assistance.

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We also provide physical and electronic materials, classes, programming, and service to improve literacy in the community. Community members with improved literacy rates are more likely to be a productive member of society. We provide literacy assistance from Pre K – Adults without discrimination to any library patrons.

To give a brief overview, in 2015-16 the library provided: 651 programs with 9,255 attendees, 12,661 uses of online databases, 130,000+ circulations of print resources, 14,369 circulations of electronic resources. On average, 68 people a day used the library computers and 367 community meetings were held in our meeting rooms. In the 2015-16 Annual Report, we shared how much value the library provides the community; that estimated value is over $5 million dollars. How did we arrive at that number? We take the services, programs, and materials that we provide and estimate how much the community saved by not having to pay for these resources elsewhere. In other words, if the library patrons had to buy all their own books, databases, CDs, DVDs, and program educators, they would have had to pay over $5 million dollars. That is quite a bargain for any community member.

When we analyze our data for the 2016-17 Annual Report, we are expecting an increase in almost 100 percent of our statistics reported in 2015-16. And as we move forward gathering more input from the community on what the community needs are, we will continue to grow our programs, services, and educational opportunities to improve our impact to the community.

Tina Walker is Director of Keene Memorial Library in Fremont.

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