Exceeding Our Expectations

January 2011

In the literary world, at the end of the year, dozens of lists of the "best books" appear. You find them in magazines, newspapers, book stores and on the Internet. It occurred to me recently that not only does the library have most of the "best books" available for readers, but a review of the many services and programs provided throughout the year might also produce a best list. Assisted by the staff, we have produced a compilation of, what we consider to be our best. We recognize that our judgment may be somewhat compromised, and thus we invite your feedback on what the list should include.

Before creating the list, we adopted a few guidelines for evaluating best list candidates. Among the criteria were the obvious considerations such as was the program or activity popular as demonstrated by attendance or feedback, did it produce an increase in library use and did it address a community need or interest. More esoteric considerations included the consideration of the presence of a quality of good stewardship of the trust placed in us by patrons; did it present an opportunity for partnering with other community organizations. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, is the program sustainable; i.e., can it continue to provide value. Here are our selections:

The Career Connect Center (C3), a one-stop access point for job-related resources, offers assistance in applying for jobs and unemployment benefits online. During 2010, forty-seven individuals registered at the Center, ten of whom are known to have obtained jobs.

The digital divide was routinely and successfully addressed through the numerous computer classes offered throughout the year. Focusing on basics as well as specific applications, more than 81 individuals attended the classes.

A major highlight of our celebration of Black History Month was the appearance of Lillian Lincoln Lambert, author of The Road to Someplace Better, who brought a message of inspiration and vision to a standing room only audience.

Forty-six young travelers “flew away” on a Fantasy Trip for an African adventure in April. The program provided them with an exciting opportunity to experience the sounds and tastes of exotic South Africa and Botswana, while learning about the unique culture of Africa.

A day in the sunshine participating in the library Highland Games proved a wonderful way to celebrate the end of the school year for 34 young challengers.

The 2010 summer youth program “Follow the Circus” exceeded our expectations, both in registration (96) and in excellence. The magicians and clowns were top notch, but no match for the hometown circus held the last day on the courthouse green.

Sunday Afternoon Tea Dances brought fun and music to the library four times. Always a success, the dance held on August 29th attracted a capacity crowd of 72 who danced, sang and listened to the sounds of “AfterSix.”

Deck the Halls never fails to transform the library into a place of magic. This was especially true in 2010 with the theme, The Gift of the Magi. On November 28th, the sounds of laughter and music filled the library as decorations were hung on the six trees representing the traditions of Mathews.

We began the year with 8,203 registered patrons and ended with 8,764 who checked out 27,422 items. The library sponsored over 105 programs for adults and youth with more than 1,000 in attendance.

It is our hope that we were able to enrich the lives of those who came to the library. We believe the past year was a remarkable one, and we expect 2011 to surpass it. Today’s library is a broad, diverse resource where people go, not just to get something, but to be connected to the world in a different way. The programs and services that the Mathews Memorial Library offers must support this vision if we are to be considered community partners in the future.