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Library News

By: Virginia Volkman
For: Red Rock News
Date: March 25, 2011

Sedona Public Library Named as Non-Profit that Provides Core Services to the Community

Sedona Public Library has been named one of the non-profits that provides core services to the community.  If our private non-profit corporation, whose purpose is to establish and maintain a public library for Sedona and vicinity, did not exist, the City of Sedona would have to take responsibility for filling this role.  The corporation raised private funds to construct the library building and is debt-free.  The library corporation also has the responsibility for major building and property repairs and improvements, such as the expanded parking lot and lights that were installed two years ago and last year’s paving of White Bear Road.

Thirty-three percent of the annual cost of operating the library is funded by the City.  Sedona Public Library in the Village is funded by Yavapai County and private donations.   As a core service provider, the library was recently invited to give an annual report to the City.  I’d like to share that report with you.

We ended our fiscal year in May 2010, with statistics showing increased usage in almost every area.   We counted 198,593 people coming through the doors during regular library hours.

We issued 1,550 new library cards last year.  Currently, 8,600 cardholders show a Sedona address, which accounts for approximately 70% of our total cardholders.   

Our primary focus during the 2010 calendar year was preparation for a major software upgrade.  As a member of the Yavapai County Library Network, we cooperate with public, school and college libraries, and the backbone of our shared network is the computer operating system that we use.  In July we went live with the new software, after training approximately 50 volunteers. 

The real advantage to our patrons is that we now have a single library card that is good throughout Yavapai County.  If you get your card in Sedona and want to use other libraries in the county, you no longer have to register anywhere but Sedona, because Yavapai County libraries now share patron information.  This cooperation enables us to greatly enhance the service we can provide our patrons.  And the library card has even gotten smaller, with many people opting to use the keychain card.

When we weren’t busy preparing for the software upgrade project, we planned and implemented a number of new services.

In April we started teaching basic computer and beginning Internet classes for adults, with a primary goal of creating a friendly and supportive learning environment.  In staff member Andrea Lhotka’s words:  “Learning technology is scary and intimidating …. we offer chocolate.”  So far Andrea has offered 16 classes, with the help of volunteer Jeff Heidt.

In July, in response to requests from patrons, we started English as a Second Language classes.  After the success of the initial classes, a second series of classes was offered in the fall.  We just completed a winter series of classes and are planning more ESL sessions for the spring. 

In October we turned on the power for 10 additional public access computers, bringing our total Internet computers for adults to 28.  These computers were purchased with stimulus funds.  The immediate result is that there is very seldom a waiting period for computer users.  Before the computers were added, every morning we had a line of people waiting to get into the library, with a mad dash to sign up to use a computer.

In the late fall we started planning to move our Village of Oak Creek library service center to new quarters in Tequa Plaza.  On the first day of February, we opened in the new location, giving us twice the amount of space that we had for the 5 years we were at our West Cortez Drive location.

In addition to implementing new services, Sedona Public Library strengthened ongoing services. Our first and primary service continues to be that of a traditional library – we check out books, movies and audio books.  In fiscal year 2010, approximately 207,000 items were checked out.  Of these, about 23,000 items were brought in from other libraries.

But more and more we’re also checking out items through our website by downloading the material to patrons’ home computers or other electronic devices such as e-readers.  Just last month we purchased our first e-books, and we’ve been offering downloadable audio books since 2008.

However, the library is not merely a place to pick up and check out materials. People still flock to the library to read the daily newspaper, the latest issue of a magazine, and use financial or other reference material. 

Our second main service is access to computers.  We averaged 150 computer sessions per day last year.  And who uses the computers?   It’s the people who don’t own computers and depend on the library for daily or weekly use.  It’s the people who do own computers, but might turn to the library when their printer dies or is out of ink or their hard drive crashes.  It’s also the people who own laptops and come in to use our WiFi service.

Last year 23% of our computer users were visitors who used our computers for checking e-mail, printing out boarding passes or searching the Internet.   Our children’s computers were used by school children for Internet searches and by preschoolers for the educational games we offer in English and Spanish.

The third area of service was programs.  Six hundred programs were offered by the library, and attendance at them was 10,000.  Our biggest audiences were for the summer reading program, concerts offered through a partnership with Chamber Music Sedona, and visits from the fifth grade classes at West Sedona School and from the Red Rock High School freshman class.  Our partnership with the volunteer AARP tax service helped to process approximately 500 tax returns.

The library’s meeting rooms were also used by 30 other non-profit groups on a regular basis, by commercial groups, by the City of Sedona and by the Census Bureau.

The fourth focus of library service was a continuation of Latino Services.  In addition to the new ESL classes, we offered computer literacy classes in Spanish and bilingual story times.  Family-oriented programs, such as the Latin American Independence Day Celebration held in September, included a mariachi band and food donated by local restaurants.  A very enthusiastic group filled the community room to capacity, with 130 people dancing, singing and enjoying a night out.

In conclusion, I’d like to thank the City of Sedona for its support and the 160 volunteers who donated 22,847 hours of service to the library last year. 

Library News appears each Friday in the Red Rock News and is also presented on: Gateway to Sedona and Sedona Biz.
Virginia Volkman is Director of the Sedona Public Library.