Tuesday, 25 February, 2020


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Books & Beyond @ your Library

Will Richter, Director


In my last article on 1/12 (Banner Year @ your Library) I talked about how year-on-year check-outs of physical items from the Grand Rapids Area Library increased over 3%.  As I start the process of preparing the Library’s annual report to the State of Minnesota (a statutory requirement), data is emerging that shows other measures of use are also increasing.  A few notable examples of core Library services with growing use:

It was a banner year for program attendance with 11,361 participants – this includes the most popular children’s summer reading program in outstate Minnesota with 1,112 participants

Circulation of downloadable E-books and Audio books increased 5,275 to 31,275

Usage of electronic content (databases) increased by 6,154 to 32,398

Volunteerism at the Library also increased – over 70 regular volunteers contributed over 4,000 hours to making the Library go – thank you!

Consider these statistics in light of reputable studies published by Pew Research and Gallop.  The first, cited by Children’s Librarian Tracy Kampa a couple of weeks ago seems to anticipate what our 2019 use data is telling us:  

Millennials, they get it. A Pew Research study in 2017 concluded that over half of the Millennial generation used their public libraries in the previous year. This information flies in the face of a popular belief that libraries are losing their relevance. (In reality, libraries are often tasked with being the public institutions most responsive to the needs of their communities. You need a place to gather? We’ll find it. You need another story time? We’ll figure it out. You need your passport services in a more convenient spot? Sure, we can do that.)  The first generation of people to grow up in the digital age repeatedly turn to their library to access books, movies, magazines, on-line resources, attend programs, and utilize meeting space. They download books to listen to or read on their devices. They choose to borrow rather than buy. They get it.

Taking it a step further, a December 2019 Gallop poll, published on 1/24/2020 shows visiting the library remains the most common cultural activity Americans engage in, by far:

Americans' Reports of Leisure and Activities

About how many times in the past year, if any, did you do each of the following? How about -- [RANDOM ORDER]?

             2019 Dec 2-15


Go to a library                                           10.5

Go to a movie at a movie theater              5.3

Attend a live sporting event                       4.7

Attend a live music or theatrical event       3.8

Visit a national or historical park                3.7

Visit a museum                                          2.5

Visit a gambling casino                              2.5

Go to an amusement or theme park          1.5

Visit a zoo                                                  0.9


The Library is more than just books!  That said, we have more than 73,000 books and other materials available inside the Library to go with 30,000+ eBooks and audiobooks ready to download anytime, anywhere.  We also have up-to-date technology and expert assistance available to help.  Or consider attending one of the 375+ programs for children, teens, and adults. 

Book Time! Monday, February 10 at 9:30 and 10:30

Join ECFE teachers in the Story Circle for books, songs, finger plays, flannel board stories, and all other sorts of fun! Then move to the Community Room for a snack, a craft, and a time to play and visit.

Artastic! Tuesday, February 11 at 3:30

Are you a kid who likes to create? Join us for our monthly art program, Artastic! Open to everyone, sign up at the Children’s Desk. (218) 327-8823

Love, Books: Family Date Night Thursday, February 13 at 6:00 

Calling all adults (parents, grandparents, mentors and more): It’s Love Your Library Month! Book a date with the special kids in your life!  You are invited to the Library for love-themed books and activity stations, a light snack, and quality time together. Great for kids ages toddler to ten—and those who are still kids at heart. No registration required.

Saturday Story Time! Saturday, February 15 at 10:15 and 11:15

Join ECFE teachers in the Story Circle for books and songs, then move to the Community Room for a snack, a craft, and a time to play and visit. Families may earn one Baby Steps coupon for attending this Story Time.

Lego Club! Tuesday, February 18 at 3:30

Are you a kid who likes to build? Join us for our next Lego Club! Lego Club is open to everybody, and Lego creations are displayed in the Children’s Library between programs.  We supply the Lego, you supply the imagination!

Minerals Rock!  Thursday, February 27 at 6:00

Join Drew Davis for some fun learning about rocks and minerals. Explore his rock and mineral samples, or bring one of your own to be identified. For all ages. Children must be accompanied by an adult.

Schedule note:

Library closed on Monday 2/17 for Presidents’ Day