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: 1.1 % increase to 451,874 items circulated and a 6.4 % increase since 2008. Hamden Public Library continued its ongoing commitment to excellence by providing 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 eighth year with 28 Sundays open.
- The Brundage-Community Branch participated in the eighth 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 170 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 third year of our partnership with the Hamden Partnership for Young Children. The final joint program at Miller had ~120 participants which included storytelling, tour of the library and free books.
- The library is a representative to the new HYAC ( Hamden Youth Advisory Council ).
- The VITA ( Volunteer Tax Assistance ) program, coordinated by Librarian Pamela Ross, continued with 159 residents receiving free income tax assistance in cooperation with law school volunteers from Quinnipiac University Law donating 176 hours at Miller and the branches.
- Librarian Elisabeth Angele manages our Museum Pass program funded by the Friends of the Library. We circulated 22 park and museum passes that allow Hamden families to visit these sites for free or at greatly reduced prices. Five new passes were added. The passes were circulated 706 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 1,337 items; 1,558 items were loaned to other libraries.
- Associate Director Nancy McNicol continued the second year of 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 450 e-scribers. She applied for and received 1 grant from ALA / National Endowment for the Humanities: the “Created Equal / Picturing America” grant included branch programming and additions to our collection on these Americana themes.
- More than 60 volunteers generously gave of their time and were recognized during the annual volunteer reception.
· Our new teen area and media center opened in November thanks to the support of the Library Board, the Friends of the Library, the Town of Hamden and a Connecticut State Library Construction grant. This $50,000 renovation provides easier browsing and more efficient shelving of media materials as well as giving teens a bright and convenient location to study and to browse for leisure materials.
· Snapshot Day. Library “Snapshot Day” was held statewide on February 18th. Photos and surveys were taken throughout the day showing how residents make use of our library on a day-to-day basis.
· Business Expo. The library offered prizes for attendees who could show a library card or were willing to fill out a short survey about library usage. This proved to be a fun way to get to know the Hamden community a little better.
- School Summer Reading Program. The library and library board participated in a Board of Education sponsored brain-storming session on how to increase library usage and better coordinate the School Summer Reading Program.
- Holiday public donations for the Keefe Center with the library as a donation site:
- 172 toys
- 166 coats through coat drive co-sponsored by Quinnipiac Valley & Trust
- 152 mittens, hats and gloves from our “mitten tree”
- 11 boxes of food ( we accept nonperishable food items year-around )
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.
- 191,264 books, paperbacks and magazines
- 21,101 DVDs, videos and audio cassettes
The reduction of the library materials budget from $225,000 to $185,000 had an adverse impact on the collection resulting in the cancellation of 178 of our 409 magazine subscriptions and the cancellation of 4 online databases. Fortunately, the Mayor and Council approved in December a $15,000 internal transfer into the library materials account so we could maintain our level of print and audio visual materials spending.
We now have 101 public and staff PCs at Miller and the branches including 5 PCs installed at the branches through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The Town Technology Department continues to provide tech support to our growing system. One major problem is the demand has outpaced the network bandwidth capability resulting in slow connectivity. The Whitneyville Branch continues to have intermittent service interruptions even though this problem was brought to the attention of AT&T management. Both of these problems are being addressed in FY10 / 11. Our Wi-Fi is widely utilized with users bringing their own laptops rather than relying on our heavily used public PCs, and the branches will soon have Wi-Fi. The library staff began the initial review of potential new Integrated Library Systems, viewing several vendor demonstrations of products that would replace our current automation system.
Computer Sessions - Miller: 24,449; Whitney: 2,662; Brundage-Community: 3,968; Total: 31,079
Web Site Visits - 147,812
Library Subscription Database Searches - 1,771
CT State Library ICONN Database Searches - 9.803
CT State Library ICONN Audio books Downloaded - 561
Self Checkout - 1,514 sessions; 2,946 items
Online Catalog Self Renewals - 19,503
Online Catalog Requests Placed - 14,053
Facebook Friends - 45
Twitter Followers - 300
Bookletters E-mail Subscribers - 895
Bookletters Page views - 41,771
Library Newsletter Downloads - 298
Even though the staff authorization was 26 full time and 13 part time employees, staffing was impacted by filling vacancies due to retirements, resignations, the early hiring freeze, and the loss of a vacant part-time Page position. The year began with the loss of a vacant part time Page position at Miller. As vacancies are filled through internal promotions and outside recruitment, there is a learning curve as staff adjusted to new assignments, duties and responsibilities. The Library Technical Assistant vacancy in Technical Services was filled by the promotion of Page Rebecca Coates from the Whitneyville Branch. Michelle Russo was hired as a Whitneyville Page; however, she resigned after 3 months. A Page recruitment had 73 applicants, and Elise Brand was hired in February to become a Page assigned to the Whitneyville Branch. Librarian I Delice Feinn retired after 22 years at the Miller Children’s Department. LTA Marcy Goldman, who recently completed her MSLIS degree, promoted to Librarian I in the Children’s Department. Page , Long time Miller Pages Gloria LaTorracca and Pat Madigan, resigned in December and January, respectively, resulting in two frozen position targeted for elimination in the FY 10 / 11 budget. The cumulative impact on our staffing meant 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 30 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. The next step is to develop a Library Building Program for eventual development of architectural drawings and funding.
Council Approved Expenditures: $1,702,033
Revised Council Approved Expenditures: $1,706,033
Library Expenditures: $1,688,970
Savings Returned to the Town: $17,063
Fine Revenue: $34,827
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:
“I love the new teen center. It is colorful and nice. It is so appealing to stay here.”
“Love the library and the staff. Keep up the good work! Would like more non-fiction books on tape.”
“Thank you for all of your help and service. Everyone is so willing to look for my requests ( I don’t know computers). The library was able to get every book I asked for. It’s a wonderful, complete library.”
“Many thanks to the Hamden Public Library staff for their help in my general research for this book.”
“I enjoy the romance display on the lower level and find it helpful in reading new authors.”
“We love the place. Great work with the CDs!”
“Excellent children’s programs.”
The above is a sampling of ~72 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 was “Make a Splash@Your Library” and featured 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. The number of participants in the Summer Reading Club increased 9% from the previous year to 461 participants.
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: 61
Total attendance: 1,398
Summer Reading Club: 461
Total number of programs: 432
Visits to the Library:
Sunday Usage - 28 Sundays: