Mesa County Libraries numbers steady; technology embraced
Folks visit the library to not only check out hard copies of books, but also to utilize the computers and attend dozens of programs for youth and adults at no charge.
Over the last decade, Mesa County Libraries have worked to improve not only the central library, but also its many branches throughout the county.
Through the eight branches (Clifton, Collbran, DeBeque, Fruita, Gateway, Orchard Mesa, Palisade), the locations are able to provide many services to Mesa County residents without traveling to the central location as well.
Palisade, Fruita, Clifton and Orchard Mesa have seen improvements or moving to larger locations to better suit the need of patrons. Since the moves, the numbers in visits have proved there was a need.
According to reports provided by Mesa County Libraries, when Fruita’s branch moved into the Fruita Community Center building, visits nearly doubled from 59,083 visits in 2010 to 104,142 in 2011.
“A library is an important component of a community,” said Mike Bennett, Fruita’s city manager. “Fruita is enriched by the library’s services and our partnership with the library is a key factor in our center serving as a true ‘community center’ where learning, literature, recreation, senior activities all come together in one awesome location.”
Bob Kretschman, spokesperson for Mesa County Libraries. noted in 2003, the Mesa County Libraries District heard from folks in smaller communities they wanted improved branch facilities.
“The district took that seriously and have been working to improve the branches since,” Kretschman said.
When the central location built its new building in 2012-2013, the number of visits also increased, from 104,213 in 2012 to 107,027 in 2013.
“This year we are expected the numbers to level out, but at a new level,” Kretschman said.
He noted a number that is increasing is the number of card holders. Between 2014 and year to date, the number of card holders has increased nearly six percent.
“This tells us that people are using the library for various things,” Kretschman said, adding many visit the library to use the wireless connection, using mobile devices or personal computer to connect on the internet.
Kretschman also added an increase of computer usage increased during the downturn of the local economy.
“Libraries are less expensive entertainment,” he said. “Plus, more people are using the internet to apply for jobs or unemployment. Libraries are countercyclical. … People visit libraries to improve job skills and use facilities for education, job searching and more.”
With the improved facilities, programs for youth attendance has also increased over the years. Just between last year and this year, teen attendance has increased by more than 68 percent.
“We are happy to see the youth and teen programming numbers up,” Kretschman said. “It tells us that we are giving teens and kids a place to gather.”
Among other programs available include literacy programs and teaching folks English or other languages.
“Most Mesa County residents value the library’s role in promoting literacy and learning,” said Shana Wade, associate director of Mesa County Libraries. “But only some are aware of the full scope of resources that the library offers.”
LIBRARY EMBRACES TECHNOLOGY
With technology being ever present, Mesa County Libraries continues to look for ways to incorporate it.
The use of eRescoures has increased over the last year as well, seeing about 20 percent more use. eResources are available to card holders and cover a variety of topics.
“There is everything from car repair to Rosetta Stone at the library for no charge,” Kretschman said.
Digital downloads are also increasing as folks use tablets to read more books and magazines. The downloadable circulation number has also increased about 11 percent over the last year.
“We are currently developing classes and opportunities for residents — especially children, teens and artists — to create, discover, learn, and connect using 21st century technology,” Wade said.
Mesa County Libraries is also embracing technology with the opening of 970West studios, a video and audio recording studio.
“It brings a whole new dimension to the area,” Kretschman said. “We plan to offer a whole series of classes for video and sound. We are excited with the potential of the studio. It’s something different for a library, but it’s something the patrons and people of Mesa County will find valuable.”
The studio also is also able to expand its online collection, with oral history, photography and more.
“I love the library,” said Alexis Bauer, a Grand Junction resident. “I’m fascinated to see what is going to happen when the recording studio opens.”
970West is set for a grand opening in mid-November.
To learn more about Mesa County Libraries, visit http://www.mesacountylibraries.org.
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