ROCKPORT — The Rockport Public Library will be 100 years old in 2014. Members of the Rockport Public Library committee and staff have been studying library services, looking at what the current community needs are, and what services are anticipated to be in the future based on library trends and projected demographics. The committee is trying to determine those needs and how they impact space, services and staffing.
The role libraries play in communities has changed. They are no longer a place only for books but increasingly are a place for people to gather, to learn and to be a part of the larger community.
The building in its current configuration is supporting services, patrons and staff not anticipated years ago. An example of this is inter-library loans. In 2000, Rockport patrons borrowed 208 books from other libraries. With the advent of automation and the delivery service, Rockport cardholders borrowed more than 6,500 items last year.
Here are some other facts that reflect growing community needs:
-In 2010, there were 30,401 visits to the library, up 8.5 percent over the previous year and the first time there have been more than 30,000 at this library.
-Children checked out 23,224 items last year, up 19.4 percent over 2009.
-Library programs were attended by 4,906 people in 2010, up 27.2 percent from 2009. Children’s program attendance is up by 34.6 percent over last year.
People attend more programs, check out more books and movies and use library computers during difficult economic times. They use library computers to update a resume, search for jobs, and keep in touch with businesses and loved ones when traveling.
The staff and library committee are weighing residents’ opinions and trying to balance the needs of the future for space and continued growth and change. Residents value the downtown site and the sense of community the library provides and appreciate the library as a place to learn.
The committee wants input to its process of embracing the future and the new directions the library will go in serving community needs. Residents and library patrons are asked to fill out a survey at the library or online to allow the committee to hear opinions. Access the survey at www.rockport.lib.me.us before Monday, Feb. 28.