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Weller Public Library update presented to City Council

WAITSBURG-Weller Public Librarian Twila Tate presented the library's 2022 year-end report to the Waitsburg City Council at its regular meeting in January. The report included data on the collection status, staffing, programming, and grants.

At the end of 2022, the current collection at the Weller Public Library included 7,776 physical items. In the summer of 2022, the library staff began assessing the materials in the collection. The materials are reviewed for age, accuracy, duplications, circulation, and physical condition. The evaluation will provide a clear snapshot of the library's assets, effectiveness, and relevance to the community.

According to the American Library Association (ALS), the median age of a collection varies based on content. Typically, non-fiction should have a low median publication date (approximately less than five years) to keep current with updated information.

Fiction titles, excluding classics, may have median publication dates of five to ten years. This encourages better circulation and interest from patrons.

In the report, Tate estimated the collection had median publication dates between 2009 and 2012. In reviewing the materials, a large percentage was found to have been in the collection since before 1995.

The physical condition of library materials is also being assessed by section. Tate reported 1,937 books in children's fiction, and 40 percent were in poor condition. Overall, the remaining materials are in good condition but rarely checked out.

Of the 286 children's non-fiction books, most were published before 2010. During the review, staff found over 100 titles accidentally cataloged as adult fiction and moved them to be included in the 286 total. Most of these titles were added to the library before 1995.

There are 2,753 titles in adult fiction and 1,716 in adult non-fiction. Tate estimated over 50 percent of the non-fiction material was published before 1998.

The 410 young adult (YA) titles are in good condition with 70 percent of the titles published in the last 1-4 years. The library staff determined that several of the titles had been misidentified as YA and contained subject matter that was not age appropriate. These titles were moved by staff to the adult section.

The report included data on physical and internet circulation. Washington Anytime Library, an online service, provides access to an extensive collection of ebooks and periodicals to library patrons. Last year, Waitsburg patrons checked out over 1,600 titles from the site. Friends of the Library pay the annual fee for the service.

The physical materials checked out from the library were estimated in the report at between 1,200 and 1,600. Circulation numbers will be more accurate as existing materials and new acquisitions are recorded and barcoded.

Currently, the library has 803 members, two-thirds adult, and one-third youth.

The report stated that the library has two paid part-time support staff. They run the library during the scheduled 14 hours of operation a week.

The 2022 budget did not support wages for the Librarian position. The City Council increased the 2023 budge to include wages for the Librarian position, however, Tate still volunteers at least ten hours a week. Her activities include cleaning the library, answering emails, grant writing, program and collection development, and managing the staff. The 2022 budget did not include wages for the librarian, however, the City Council assigned additional funds in the 2023 budget which will provide wages for some of

Tate told the council in her report that the library has provided seventy Take & Make Art Kits for adults and children since September. Programs include two Story Time sessions on Fridays and Crafts and Sewing activities on Saturdays.

The report included data on donations, including $2,300 from The Friends of Weller Public Library. Private donors gifted $1,500 in new children's books. The same donors have pledged to purchase library cataloging materials and children's Spanish language books. There are only two such books in the collection

The library is working on grant applications to renovate the second floor of the library building. Updates are needed to the building's HVAC, electrical, and interior structure.

After renovations, the new space would be able to house potential programs, including:

• Musical instrument lending library for youth and adults

• Music lessons and musical instrument repair

• Community space for organizations to hold meetings and workshops

• Maker Space for Youth and Adults

• Community space for events

The Library Board has applied for three grants open to Weller Public Library as a government entity and does not require non-profit status.

The first is a Rural Libraries Grant which provides funding for library staff to attend the annual Washington State Library Conference. Sarah Roberts would attend this yearly conference should the fund be awarded.

The second, an AAUW grant would provide $2,500 to purchase children's non-fiction books for the library collection.

The Yancy P. Winans Community Grant, Baker Boyer Bank Trustee, would fund up to $4500.00 for the 2023 Summer Reading program.

The Friends of the Library can apply for grants, including those requiring non-profit status. This makes the group an essential partner for the library in its fundraising and sustainability. Last year the Friends raised funds to install an ADA lift and update the bathroom to be ADA compliant.

The library's work creating a snapshot of the collection and circulation data is critical for supplying information to fundraise and write grants. It shows the areas of need where private and public funding can make the most difference. The data also shows the shared commitment from the library staff and board, the Friends, City, and the community in maintaining the Weller Public Library.

The above article has been updated to include information on the 2023 budget's increase in wages for staff.


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