Public library an evolving destination point
by JOYANNA WEBER, Banner Staff Writer
Feb 14, 2013 | 889 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
More Bradley County and Cleveland residents are going to the library, according to recent data presented to the Bradley County Commission.

The number of books checked out in the 2011-12 data year increased 6.25 percent over the 2010-11 number. Various other media checked out increased 3.5 percent.

There were 307,291 visitors to the library, according to Tara Brown, chair of the library board.

“I really feel like our library enhances the quality of life here in Bradley County,” Brown said.

As technology becomes more and more prevalent, the library has changed to stay relevant.

“The library of today and of the future may look a little different than it did in the past, but I really feel ... it’s importance to our community remains the same,” Brown said.

She thanked the county commissioners who attended this week’s gathering for their support.

Library director Andrew Hunt said the library’s e-book and audio collection allows the community to access free information even after the library closes for the day.

“We have seen a lot of increase of usage of the e-materials over the last few years,” Hunt said.

More than 24,000 e-items were checked out last year.

These resources also allow users to use a variety of practice tests.

The bookmobile and the Book Buddies programs also take books to those who cannot get to the library.

In addition to checking out books and media, many come to the library to attend programs or use the computers, Brown said.

Those attending programs included more than 7,000 children, 275 teens and 984 adults. Brown said more teens are making visits to the library.

“We try to tie all of our programs to literacy,” Hunt said.

He said even the movies are based on books.

The board hopes to be able to hire a librarian for teens in the future, but so far the funding has not been available.

With budget challenges in recent years, the library has tried to operate more efficiently. This includes utilizing volunteers, using interlibrary book loans for titles not in the local collection, pursuing grants and streamlining the budgets.

Hunt said using radio frequency technology would increase the efficiency in cataloging and checking out books. It would allow multiple books to be checked out at one time.

This idea has been brought up in the past, but the start-up cost has been seen as a limiting factor.