Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

December 24, 2012

Library reports record numbers

Bill Grimes
Effingham Daily News

EFFINGHAM — Record circulation figures underscore the need for a new library in Effingham, the current library’s director said.

    “We are delighted to see how well the library is being used,” said Helen Matthes Library director Amanda McKay. “We are grateful to our customers and staff for dealing so well with our current cramped location.”

    Library checkouts totaled 79,000 items for the six-month period beginning May 1. McKay said that figure is a 14 percent increase over the previous best six months from May to October 2010.

    That increase is spread somewhat evenly between adult and child circulation, McKay said. The adult checkout total of 42,000 is up 12 percent from the previous best six months, while the children’s checkout total of 37,000 is up 17 percent form the previous best.

    McKay said these figures show that the library’s pending move into the old Fifth Third Bank building can’t come too soon. City and library officials hope renovation of the old bank begins next year.

    “These figures demonstrate Effingham’s need for a larger location,” McKay said.

    Meanwhile, library staff soldiers on in a building the community has long outgrown. McKay said the biggest key to library growth is staff responsiveness to patron needs.

    “We are able to respond quickly to what our patrons are requesting,” McKay said. “We take a lot of care to track what our patrons want, whether it be materials or programs.”

    McKay said program attendance has increased dramatically this year. The 6,000 people taking part in library events during the six months that ended Oct. 31 was a 43 percent increase over the first six months of 2011.

    McKay said the library is doing such a good job of serving its patrons that there are actually fewer requests for materials from other libraries in the Rolling Prairie Library System. That system includes libraries in Springfield and Decatur, among other central Illinois locales.

    “That means we are able to do more for our patrons right here,” McKay said.

    McKay said the most popular adult items are best-selling books and new DVDs.

    “Items relating to the Civil War are always popular in this area, as well as Christian fiction,” she said. “On the kids’ side, the ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid’ book series is really popular.”

    McKay said the building project is still in the planning stages.

    “I’m excited to get started on the building project,” she said. “But until we get a contractor, we can’t really set any dates.”