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Library identifies areas to improve

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The Fort Frances Public Library Technology Centre saw a 13 percent growth in membership and more use of many of its programs and resources last year.

But the library's 2017 performance measurement indicators and statistics report shows it needs to improve on its programming for teens and seniors, as well as its summer reading program—and library staff already is taking action.

In a presentation to town council Monday night, library CEO Caroline Goulding explained the statistics report—which is something new for the local library—allows the library to use data from 2017 to make decisions about 2018 and beyond.

“It allows us to examine the strengths and weaknesses of the library, and design services and strategies that support the strengths while minimizing the weaknesses,” she noted.

“For example, programming is an area of strength in the library," Goulding said. ”Over 14,000 [people] attended a program at the library in 2017.

“That being said, we do have three areas of weakness within programming where we're underserving, which is our teens, seniors, and our summer reading program,” she added.

“So we'll be focusing on that in 2018.”

Using the data in the report, the library is aiming to:

  • restructure its summer reading program to increase circulation over the summer months (this will include developing more community partnerships and outreach);
  • create a new partnership with the Tourist Information Centre and Fort Frances Chamber of Commerce to advertise visitor memberships and summer programming to tourists;
  • develop a multi-platform marketing program to regularly advertise library materials, both physical and digital;
  • develop a targeted marketing scheme to advertise six-month memberships to “snowbirds”;
  • develop regular programming for teens and seniors;
  • increase the use of Ancestry.ca in the library through the use of workshops on how to use the service and marketing its availability;
  • increase the use of Tumblebooks (a curated database of children's eBooks) by devising an awareness strategy;
  • create posting goals for social media and utilize services that will allow for posting to multiple platforms in order to efficiently use staff time while increasing the quantity of posts;
  • develop staff training modules on the different databases offered by the library;
  • reach out to the Seven Generations Education Institute and Confederation College to include the availability of study rooms as group meeting spaces in their orientation materials;
  • track filled interlibrary loan and purchase requests; and
  • follow purchasing and weeding priorities as outlined in the report.

Some of these goals will take longer than the 2018 year to achieve, Goulding admitted, as staff time is finite and sometimes opportunities arise outside these goals and priority areas.

Library board chair Andrew Hallikas, meanwhile, told council 2017 was a “very good year” for the library.

“Our membership increased significantly, program attendance is up, online usage has increased, and social media interaction with the community has also grown,” he noted.

The annual report indicates that last year, the library had 95,728 visits and held 620 programs attended by 14,022 people.

Library membership rose to 4,547 individuals.

A total of 77,141 items were checked out while 2,919 items were used in the library.

A total of 9,872 eBooks and audiobooks were downloaded while databases were accessed 3,892 times.

Meanwhile, volunteers delivered a total of 4,610 books to readers unable to come to the library.

Customers used the computers 16,027 times and accessed Wi-Fi 13,536 times while there were 925 study room bookings.

The library also had 16,690 website visits, as well as 2,415 social media interactions, with posts reaching a total of 104,92 people.

2017 also was an award-winning year for the library, said Hallikas.

As part of the Rainy River District Library Co-operative (RRDLC) with the Atikokan Public Library, Emo Public Library, Rainy River District School Board, Northwest Catholic District School Board, and Seven Generations Education Institute, it received two awards: the Minister's Award for Innovation—Small Library Category and the Ontario Library Service North Award for Excellence in Technology and Innovation.

The RRDLC partnership ensures every child in the district is eligible for a free library card, and can access a wide range of eBooks and databases.

Hallikas said the library staff is “second to none" and the library is "blessed with a large cadre of volunteers who support us with their labour and their talents," most notably the "Friends of the Library" who help the library "be the best that it can be.”

He also thanked town administration for its ongoing support of the library.

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