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Visits way up at new library

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The Fort Frances Public Library Technology Centre completed its first full year of operation in 2011, and the numbers show there’s definitely more people coming through the doors.

An average of 2,067 per week visited the new library in 2011, compared to 1,400 per week at the former site on Church Street, said library CEO Margaret Sedgwick, who recently completed the library’s year-end report.

A total of 103,325 people came to the library in 2011 and there are 7,802 current library users, including some new clientele.

“We’ve seen an increase in the number of people coming through our doors, and not necessarily just taking out books and movies but using it as a community space,” noted Sedgwick.

She added this is exactly as she always had hoped to see in the new facility, which was recognized at the annual Ontario Library Service-North conference last May with an award for Excellence in Physical and Virtual Library Spaces.

“If you go in the children’s department at any time, you see families using that space, especially grandparents—we find lots and lots of grandparents who are using this as an extension of their living room,” Sedgwick remarked.

The fireside lounge area has been well-utilized by individuals and for group activities, like the “What Hooks You to Fort Frances?” community rug-hooking project on Wednesday afternoons.

Tour de Fort performers “The Good Lovelies” even played there during Ontario Public Library Week last summer.

Meanwhile, the two small study rooms at the new library were used by 914 people in 2011.

“We knew that they were going to be well-used, but we’ve seen more high school students coming into the library now to study in those rooms,” noted Sedgwick.

“It gets them prepared for university and how they’re

going to study,” she reasoned.

“We didn’t see that so much in the old library,” Sedgwick added. “It’s a new habit, it’s a good habit.”

Throughout the year, a total of 6,244 library patrons enjoyed a wide variety of programs for all ages, ranging from the “Mother Goose” program for babies and their caregivers to programs for pre-school children, summer reading club programs, teen programs, and special programs for seniors.

These patrons also came to the library to meet authors Gloria Alcock, Rejean Coallier, Frank Maraj, Levi Morris, Jacob Quast, and Fran Shelfantook, as well as to enjoy the Royal Wedding Tea last April, the Teddy Bears’ Picnic in June, and the Fort Harmonies Christmas concert.

Sedgwick stressed the library’s doors are open to absolutely everyone “to provide accessible public space where individuals and groups can gather to learn, to share ideas, and to enjoy a comfortable space to relax.”

Technology also has transformed the way the library does business, said Sedgwick, adding the library’s computer lab might be full on any given day.

The library computers were used 14,440 times in 2011 while other patrons bring their own computers and electronic devices to utilize the facility’s wireless Internet service.

As well, e-books continue to grow in popularity, with the library offering a growing array of titles for download and assistance with navigating e-book readers, noted Sedgwick.

The library saw a total of 1,836 e-book and audiobook downloads in 2011.

The library’s database was searched 3,259 times while the library’s website—library.fort-frances.com—was visited 57,155 times.

The library even has 334 Facebook fans.

Meanwhile, Sedgwick said the library staff continues to receive positive feedback on the Shaw Community Hub and the technology available there.

It was booked 156 times in 2011, with 2,091 people attending meetings or programs.

In August, the Newmarket Public Library partnered with the one here for its first videoconference program, broadcasting a performance from Newmarket to children in the Shaw Community Hub.

The library also offered many computer courses, as well as one-on-one computer training, throughout the year, including training in basic computer skills, attaching pictures, e-mail, Facebook, Ancestry, photo editing, using media players, website creation, Microsoft Office, Google Earth, Skydrive, online banking, scanning documents, and Skype.

The Friends of the Library “remain committed to help in making the library the best it can be,” noted Sedgwick, adding last year Friends sponsored many library programs and purchased several items, including a sound system, train table, events tent, and barbecue.

The library also got a donation from the Ukrainian Literary Society to buy a full-sized electronic keyboard.

And Sedgwick said she had to give special thanks to “the dedicated and hard-working staff who constantly deliver high-quality public service with a smile.”

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