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Library Growing Strong

Annual report shows robust growth in patronage, program attendance and more  

The Westbury Memorial Public Library recently finalized its 2012 annual report, showing growth across the board, but especially in demand for technology. 

The lengthy document is compiled by public libraries and filed each year with New York State, yielding valuable statistics on patronage, circulation and program attendance, among other things.  


“The annual report is a valuable tool for the Westbury library,” says Reference Librarian Robert LoBianco. “We use it to evaluate the job we are doing. We can see where our strengths and weaknesses are, and how we can improve our services.” 


According to the latest report for Westbury, from 2011 to 2012 the number of cardholders rose a little less than 10 percent, to 21,042. Total circulation of all materials increased about 5 percent. To accommodate growing demand, the library increased its cataloged books significantly—from about 88,400 to about 94,000 books. Of that total, adult non-fiction and fiction books rose by close to 5,000, while children’s selections increased by more than 700. 


“I’ve been very pleased to see that the circulation of books and attendance at programs continues to go up, especially in the Children’s Department,” says Library Director Cathleen Towey. 


Not surprisingly, the library saw major increases in technology use and demand, with more patrons using the public computers and seeking e-books. The library responded by more than doubling its collection of e-books, from 7,350 to 17,704. Additionally, use of public Internet computers—both desktop and mobile WiFi-ready devices—rose from 37,572 to 39,815. 


“The community ‘votes with their feet’ for all of our offerings in this area: laptops, iPads, educational programs for using new technology, Internet and e-book use,” Towey explains. 


Along with an increase in patronage, attendance at library-sponsored programs also increased. Total program attendance —children’s, young adult and adult—rose almost 9 percent, to 20,981. As a result, the library increased the number of its adult, children’s and young adult programs from 691 to 739, with 32 of the new programs targeted to children. 


“The number of people attending children’s programs alone increased by 2,972 in one year,” says LoBianco. “And children’s summer program attendance increased from 1,575 in 2011 to 2,347 in 2012.”


The annual report helps the library understand its patrons, according to Towey. “We want to be sure to put taxpayer dollars into services that the community wants and needs,” she says.