2018 reindeer

Photo by James D. Wolf Jr.

Karli Stanley, 5, pets Holly the Reindeer at the Monticello-Union Township Public Library last December. The event attracted more than 200 people and was one of the most popular ones, according to the State of the Library speech on Friday.

MONTICELLO — For the first time, the Monticello-Union Township Public Library held a State of the Library address for the public.

The overall message from the Friday talk is that the library is still being used.

However, the way people use it is changing, the staff said.

There’s been a 22 percent increase in Wi-Fi use by people with electronic devices since 2015, said Circulation Services Manager Scott Miller.

However, there has been “a 6 percent decrease in physical visits to the library in 2017 from 2016,” the 2018 annual report states.

There’s also been a decrease in use of the library’s computers and a steady increase in those attending youth services programming, according to numbers provided.

Every year the library is required to send an annual report to the Indiana State Library for statistic purposes, said Library Director Tina Emerick.

The library staff also puts copies of a more narrative report — with photos — on the front desk for people to pick up and read, she said.

Emerick said the staff decided to have a formal speech along with the release of the public version for two reasons.

“We wanted to be more transparent,” she said.

They also felt it would be more fun to explain it publicly, she added.

Computers

Although library computers are used less, people bring their own devices, Miller said

The library also needs to put in more electric outlets because when it was built in 1992, personal computers weren’t a consideration and people now crawl under tables to plug in.

“Everybody’s coming in, using the building completely differently, he said.

People use the computers or library internet to apply for jobs and gun permits (which only have online applications) and to download tax forms.

Patrons can schedule one-on-one time to learn computers, and the library offers classes in using computers or the internet, and in avoiding online viruses and scams, he said.

Because Microsoft is discontinuing Windows 7 support at the end of this year, all the library computers will need to be upgraded.

Miller said that because some computers won’t be able to upgrade to newer Windows operating systems, he may conduct a program to upgrade to the Linux operating system.

Programs

Children Services Manager Cara Ringle said the library has families coming every week from Reynolds and even one from Wolcott.

Youth services programs cover such things as toddler and preschool story times to Winnie the Pooh’s birthday and a visit from a real reindeer at Christmas.

Ringle said the Silly Safaris reindeer program was so popular, “We had to turn people away because we were breaking fire codes.”

They plan to conduct two reindeer showings this year.

In 2015, youth services had 4,803 children (and adults) attending 283 programs, and that grew steadily to be 5,656 people attending 216 programs, according to the report.

Coming youth programs for older children include virtual reality equipment for Gamer Tuesday events.

Adult programs include book clubs, a yarn club, trivia nights, the art fair and genealogy.

The state requires libraries to have 12 programs a year, Emerick said.

This past April, Monticello-Union Township had 64 programs.

“In one month alone, we did five years’ worth,” she said.

Maintenance

In building and property improvements, 2018 saw roof work that cost $15,000, down significantly from the $50,000 quote one contractor gave, Emerick said.

Air conditioner issues were resolved and the library replaced a window with a broken seal.

The parking lot speed bumps that were removed by a snow plow have been replaced and anchored, with the parking lot sealed and striped.

Outside building lights and broken locks were replaced for safety.

And seating in the general public areas has been replaced and is easier to clean and move.

Emerick said the work is paid for mostly through interest from an endowment fund created in 2008.

The library also had a boost to that because the Indiana Department of Transportation bought a bit of the southwest corner of the library property to install a ramped curb access for people traveling in wheelchairs.

Future

In 2019, the library plans to get a new canvas to go over the patio, replace the hot water heater and install new smoke detectors in the attic.

The library also has a wish list of items and improvements.

They would like more than its two study rooms, which are now limited to two-hour use.

“We have people who wait for them,” Emerick said.

The rest of the list includes:

  • A maker space for kids and adults to do hands-on work.
  • An updated sound system for the program room.
  • An enlarged program room that can hold more than the 50 to 65 maximum people.
  • A separate youth program room to cut down on competition for the space.
  • Complete replacement of the furniture.

It’s possible the library could build an addition, which requires a feasibility study for additional space.

The study would also look at the townships’ contributions.

“We’re just not quite ready for that yet,” Emerick said. “Once the community is ready to do that, we’ll work on that.”