The Seaside Public Library finished fiscal year 2013-14 with a substantial increase in library visits, the acquisition of about $32,000 in donations and grants and a continued focus on increasing library access for all children in Clatsop County, Library Director Esther Moberg reported at a Seaside Downtown Development Association meeting in March.
The highlights for the fiscal year, from July 2013 to June 2014, included a 49 percent increase in library visits; a 3 percent increase in library cardholders; a 60 percent increase in use of digital eBooks and audio books; and a 2 percent increase in total circulation. In addition, the library upgraded its WiFi and acquired a new server.
With an average of 215,800 annual patron visits, Seaside is well above the state average of 39,280. Seaside also has 163 library programs per year, nine more than the state average. The library averages about three programs per week and attendance at the programs was 4,448 for 2013-14, Moberg said.
Of the materials circulated through year, DVDs were the most prominent, at 44 percent; adult fiction and magazines, music and other materials were the next highest categories at 22 and 16 percent, respectively. The library’s collection grew from 47,307 items – including books, audio books, DVDs, videos, magazines and other materials – to 53,423 items.
In 2013-14, the library received about $32,950 in funds and materials. The library was awarded a $11,650.75 Library Services and Technology Act grant to purchase new materials; a $9,625 Library Services and Technology Act grant for Rural Outreach in Clatsop County cards; along with $11,000 in memorials and donations; and a projector and screen valued at $680.
The Friends of the Library and volunteers are core aspects of the library’s success, according to Moberg. In 2013-14, 31 volunteers donated 1,676 hours to the library and provided services such as helping with programs and events, cleaning and arranging author visits. Their donated hours of work was valued at about $37,790.
For several years, the Seaside Public Library has been collaborating with the Astoria Public Library and the Warrenton Community Library on the Rural Outreach in Clatsop County children’s program, which extends library services to out-of-town children who don’t have access to a tax-supported library. It is designed to overcome the geographic and socioeconomic barriers some children face to get library access.
The libraries, Moberg said, have found three areas of success by partnering on the program: library cards for all children in Clatsop County; courier services between the libraries and schools; and countywide summer reading initiatives.
Through the program, the group holds annual card drives in Warrenton, Jewell, Knappa, Seaside and Astoria. Children 18 and younger who live outside city limits or in the unincorporated parts of the county can get an ROCC library card for free. Since former Seaside Library Director Reita Fackerell and Astoria Library Director Jane Tucker joined forces to start the program in 2009, the number of materials circulated has increased from 5,000 to 18,000. In the first year, 273 cards were issued to kids outside city limits; in 2013-14, 550 were issued.
Over the years, the program has gained partners, such as Warrenton and Clatsop counties in 2014. Several local businesses also support the program.
The program’s countywide summer reading aspect encourages children to continue reading and learning throughout the summer.
“We feel this is supporting what the schools and teachers already are doing,” Moberg said.
The libraries contract with an individual to oversee the program, liaison with school staff and people in the community, generate publicity, organize summer reading and provide courier service. For the past two years, Suzanne Harold has been the contractor. Having a designated person to administer the program is “the core piece we see as the key for sustainability,” Moberg said.
The Friends of the Library is set up as the program’s fiscal agent, and people can donate to the ROCC program through the nonprofit. Eventually, Moberg said, the group hopes to set up a foundation specifically for the rural outreach program, which could be supported off the interest made by the foundation.
The libraries are working to establish an intergovernmental agreement between their respective communities. The group also is focusing on the program’s sustainability.
“Bringing it to where the kids are, partnering with schools and partnering with community people to bring access to them is one of the key pieces we’re going to continue to work on,” Moberg said.