by Bob Gualtieri, Library Director
The Hamden Public Library, the community’s information center, provides a variety of library resources, access to innovative technology and a knowledgeable staff to improve the quality of life and meet the informational, educational and cultural interests of the entire Hamden community.
The Hamden Public Library followed the trend as experienced by other public libraries nationwide; when the economy is on a downturn, we see library use escalating: 4.5 % increase to 446,177 items circulated. Hamden Public Library continued its ongoing commitment to excellence by roviding traditional library services along with services requiring technology.
The library provided programs and services through an outstanding staff, a supportive Library Board and a terrific Friends of the Library. The library benefited from the generosity of the Friends for equipment, library materials and programs. Gratitude is also extended to our multitude of town residents who have been supportive through the years, not only with their steady usage, but also with their tax dollars and generous contributions to the Friends’ fund raising efforts. Miller Memorial Central Library is the main provider of library services to the Town while the two branch libraries, the Whitneyville Branch and the Brundage-Community Branch, are popular with neighborhood residents.
- Our successful Sunday schedule from 1 – 5 PM continued for the seventh year with 26 Sundays open.
- The Brundage-Community Branch participated in the seventh year of the successful PACK grant ( Parents and Communities for Kids ), providing outreach and programs to families in Highwood.
- Whitneyville Branch continues to attract mothers and young children to its drop-in story times and provides a play area for them on days the meeting room space is not otherwise in use.
- Librarian Pam Ross and her Monthly Book Discussion, financed by the Friends of the Library, attracted 244 participants, a 17 % increase over last year’s attendance. The January “Team of Rivals” discussion based upon the Lincoln cabinet had 50 participants.
- Through Head of Children’s Services Nancy McLaughlin and the Children’s Department, the library was one of three participating sites in Hamden’ Kinder Prep program which offered activities and programs for prospective kindergartners and their families. This is the second year of our partnership with the Hamden Partnership for Young Children. The final joint program at Miller had 130 participants which included storytelling, a craft, a snack, tour of the library and several free paperbacks.
- The VITA ( Volunteer Tax Assistance ) program, coordinated by Librarian Pamela Ross, continued with over 170 residents ( net increase of 50 from last year ) receiving free income tax assistance in cooperation with law school volunteers from Quinnipiac University Law donating 165 hours at Miller and the Brundage-Community Branch Library.
- Librarian Elisabeth Angele manages our Museum Pass program funded by the Friends of the Library. We circulated 18 park and museum passes that allow Hamden families to visit these sites for free or at greatly reduced prices. The passes were circulated 660 times.
- Librarian Phil Scott continues to manage our interlibrary loan service. We borrow books not owned by Hamden Library from other public library systems and universities requested by residents. We borrowed 1,675 items with a 10 % annual growth per year the past 3 years; 1,705 items were loaned to other libraries.
- Associate Director Nancy McNicol launched the bimonthly “Hamden Library News” with a town-wide distribution at 20 sites of 1,000 print copies including posting on our web site and over 220 e-scribers. She applied for and received 2 grants from ALA / National Endowment for the Humanities: the “Created Equal” and “Picturing America” grants included programming and additions to our collection on these Americana themes.
- All the students at Dunbar Hill Elementary were given the opportunity to register for a Hamden Library card in April. Ms. Wong’s fourth graders were the first in the school to complete the Hamden Public Library Smart Card Challenge: every student to have a library card.
The Hamden Library web site hamdenlibrary.org has access to the catalog holdings, databases, the Internet, links to other web sites and program information. Our expanding collection continues to meet the demands of the diverse Hamden community.
- 204,820 books and magazines
- 20,795 DVDs, videos and audio cassettes
We now have 72 public and staff PCs at Miller and the branches with 5 additional PCs awaiting installation at the branches through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The Town Technology Department continues to provide excellent tech support to our growing system. The time-print management software updates allow the public to be more self-sufficient in managing their print jobs with clearer instructions. Librarian IV Jessica Rogoz launched our new web site. The site has a cleaner look and navigation is more user friendly. The web site also has a widget that displays a Twitter feed and a library blog. Our wi-fi is widely used with users bringing their own laptops rather than relying on our heavily used public PCs. Our 12 databases had 10,429 searches and the Connecticut State Library ICONN databases had 31,381 sessions.
Even though the staff authorization was 26 full time and 14 part time employees, staffing was impacted by filling vacancies due to retirements, resignations and the early hiring freeze. As vacancies were filled last summer through internal promotions and outside recruitment, there was a learning curve as staff adjusted to new assignments, duties and responsibilities. The Librarian IV- Head of the Technical Services / Cataloging Department position was filled in August by Jessica Rogoz. She quickly learned her duties as the systems administrator and was ready to supervise the Horizon upgrade during the winter with minimum down time. She is also responsible for revamping our web site. The backlog in cataloging materials was efficiently reduced from 6 weeks to a normal 2 weeks, ensuring new titles were on the shelves quickly. LTA Jean Carolla retired in May after 26 years of service with her last assignment in the Technical Services Department. The position is scheduled for filling in September 2009. The Library Technical Assistant assigned to the Media Department was filled by Tracy Nista who transferred from the Circulation Department. This had an immediate impact on our Media collection services along with public desk assignments. She was heavily involved with the planning for the Media Department makeover project along with Librarian Pamela Ross for the Teen portion of the project. Clerk Annalyn Russo promoted to LTA in September and remained in the Circulation Department supervising the Pages. Page Bonnie Greco promoted to Clerk also in September. We did experience turn-over of our Pages due to promotions and resignations. The last resignation in February resulted in a vacant position that could not be filled and not funded in the 2009 / 10 budget. The cumulative impact on our staffing meant we struggled to provide our core services at times, delays in reshelving materials, and periodic waits at the public service desks.
Building: Miller Memorial Central Library Needs Assessment
The present Miller Memorial Central Library building has provided Hamden residents with useful space and services for over 29 years. The arrangement of restrictive walled space by function no longer provides flexibility to meet the changing needs of the community. The increased use of the library over that period of time, significant growth of services to children, increased collection size, the growth of technology and projected increases in population for the next 20 years lead the need to plan for additional space, especially our overly crowded children’s room.
Council Approved Expenditures: $1,675,284
Revised Council Approved Expenditures: $1,691,794
Library Expenditures: $1,685,505
Savings Returned to the Town: $6,289
Fine Revenue: $28,261
NOTE. The austere FY 09 / 10 Budget will have an adverse impact on our collection development and access to quality databases: the book budget was reduced from $225,000 to $185,000.
Excellence in Service
We are very proud of our public service staff. Their extraordinary service at check-out desks, reference desks, children’s room and the branches is often appreciated by the public. Less recognized are the support staff that makes possible everything library users see and experience at Miller and the branches. Support services range from maintaining the computer system, the web site, purchasing and cataloging materials, maintaining our buildings, operating a central business office and handling thousands of other tasks.
How Are We Doing?
The following comments were made by Hamden residents concerning the library:
“Great!!! The best.”
“I would like to compliment Miller Library on its excellent film DVD collection in particular the “older” movies that are appealing and difficult to find. Thank you so much.”
“I just discovered the most sophisticated DVD collection of Classic/ Hidden Treasures. The collection rivals that of Greenwich Library.”
“Staff is well informed, knowledgeable, helpful and very approachable. As a user of many libraries, your collection is one of the best.”
“We truly need the Hamden Library services more than ever. I am a huge customer of the library and appreciate the librarians for all the help they give me.”
The above is a sampling of ~75 comments received. We also receive constructive criticism so we can constantly evaluate our services to make your library experience even better.
The demand for services to children continues to grow at all locations. Story times, craft programs and special event programs are popular and filled to capacity. The summer reading theme this year is “Be Creative @Your Library” and features craft and art related programs. The Friends of the Library and the Hamden Library Board generously funded almost the entire summer program including the performers.
Quality programs at Miller and the branches draw large audiences and are instrumental in our overall increased usage statistics.
Summer Reading Program
Total number of programs: 70
Total attendance: 1,625
Summer Reading Club: 391
Total number of programs: 427
Total attendance: 8,901
22,317 Brundage Community
446,177 total items
~44,444 questions answered
Visits to the Library
~232,080 entering Miller
~27,196 at WH
~18,159 at B-CO
~ 275,435 total
Web Site Visits
~9,204 entering Miller
16,978 items borrowed
130 library cards issued
FY 09 / 10 Goals
- Begin planning for a Miller Library Building Program
- Continue the PC replacement schedule for both staff and the public
- Implement the 4 year long range plan for the Hamden Public Library
- Renovate / reorganize the Miller media department and young adult area
- Continue our excellence in service
- Continue our staff development efforts
- Restore funding to our slashed library materials budget