Added Value – Libraries as transformative institutions

Currently, Mathews Memorial Library supports the needs and interests of more than 10,950 patrons, providing access to approximately 40,000 print/audio books, 46,000 ebooks and 109 periodicals. In addition, there are 53 public computers connected to high-speed Internet access.

A recent survey conducted by the Pew Research Center detailed the changing role of libraries. (American Libraries, Special Issue, March, 2015) Some of the key findings include:

Ninety-six percent of those surveyed agreed that public libraries are important because they promote literacy and a love of reading. The same number agreed that libraries are important because they provide access to tech resources non-print materials, and a majority view libraries as community centers.

Ninety percent of the respondents said that libraries are important to the community, and 76% said that libraries are important to them and their families.

More than 75% of the survey’s respondents want libraries to play an active role in public life.

Seventy-seven percent want libraries to coordinate more closely with local schools in providing resources to children, and the same proportion want free early literacy programs for children.

The transformation of libraries in terms of outreach and diversity takes many forms, with initiatives targeting an ever-wider range of underserved populations. Along with traditional services, public libraries continue to transform to meet changing needs, addressing current social, economic and community needs. At Mathews Memorial Library, this can range from sponsoring programs and hosting group meetings, (33 events/activities in February) to helping the community cope with the unexpected. On a recent snowy day, for instance, schools and the Boys and Girls Club were closed, resulting in more than 40 children and teens at the library for most of the day. Tax season brings tremendous traffic to the library with the tax assistance program offered by AARP. This is frequently a one-time, but much-appreciated, visit to the library by many members of the community. The Career Connect Center continues to draw a significant number of job seekers throughout the year.

In summary, the number of visitors recorded visiting the library in 2014 exceeded 24,000 and this, perhaps, says it all!