Library Annual Report 2014
We began the New Year by launching the strategic planning process that set the course for the next five years. Planning Consultant Barbara Alevras, of Sage Consulting Services, was hired to help facilitate the process and a fifteen-member Strategic Planning Committee (SPC) representing key segments of the community was formed. The SPC met four times over an eight month period providing feedback, advice, and support integral to the plan. In addition, input from the staff and trustees, focus groups, community forums, and a survey were incorporated into the document. The FY16-FY20 Strategic Plan, approved in October by the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners, identified six primary areas of focus: Literacy & Lifelong Learning, Technology, Community, Marketing, Staff, and Facility. Activities this past year demonstrate how the public library is working in these areas to better serve our community.
In February, the Children’s Department launched “Grow a Reader,” based on the Every Child Ready to Read initiative of the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) and the Public Library Association (PLA). This program focuses on five simple but important activities that nurture early literacy skills: talking, singing, reading, writing and playing. A colorful brochure was developed for parents and caregivers describing how to help develop the early literacy skills in children. This brochure was mailed to 864 families in Wilmington with children under the age of five. During March-May, workshops were offered where children enjoyed stories and literacy activities while demonstrating to parents methods to incorporate these activities at home. In December, the Children’s Department began circulating eight early literacy backpacks filled with books, educational toys, and activities that target the five early literacy areas.
The Children’s Department expanded its storytime programming this past year by offering an additional weekly drop-in storytime program on Friday mornings and an additional Time for Twos program on Thursdays. This brings the total number of storytimes offered each week to eight. In addition, monthly storytime programs are offered on Saturdays and in the evening to accommodate working parents. The total number of storytime attendees in 2014 was just over 4000, a 34% increase from 2013.
In March 2014, Children’s Librarian Barbara Raab and Teen Service Librarian Alison Schwartz introduced the immensely successful Book Buddies program as a way to promote mentorship between young children and teens, as well as provide volunteer hours to WHS students. On average, fifteen teens per session bonded individually or in pairs with children by reading, completing a simple craft, and sharing a snack.
The annual summer reading program, with its goal of keeping children reading through the summer months, was once again a success with 836 registrations. The Children’s Department presented 62 programs, a record number, averaging more than one program per day during the summer.
One parent wrote us: Thanks for having so many great programs for the kids this summer. One week they went to six! They love to go and I love that they are free and close by. Their favorite was the almost sleep over, but they really enjoyed the others as well. We all went to the animal show this week and thought that it was great! My friends in other towns just can't believe it when I tell them all the fun things they do at our library.”
In addition, there were 296 entries into the adult summer reading raffle. Also, Alison Schwartz Teen Serivce Librarian reports that 290 teens signed up for the Summer Reading Program and logged 314 books read. Eileen MacDougall, library trustee, continued to offer quarterly book talks generating suggestions of recommended reads. Anna Call, Adult Services Librarian, developed an online reader’s blog for sharing ideas and recommendations.
The second annual Summer Author Series further supported our efforts to inspire reading. Multiple copies of the books written by featured authors were available throughout the summer introducing readers to their works and then providing the opportunity to meet the authors. Eight authors came to the library including Ted Reinstein, James Scott, Michael Posner, Stephen Puleo, Elisabeth Elo, Neil Swidey, Tom Farmer and Marty Foley.
Many programs ranging from lawn mower repair to defense technology stimulated learning and discussion. Participants in the Domestic Affairs Discussion series in spring and the Foreign Affairs Discussion series in the fall had many positive comments including the following from Bill McGuire and Bill Kent:
Thank you for hosting these kind of events that make the Library such a valuable part of the Town of Wilmington.
An opportunity to discuss current events with people with diverse backgrounds and life experience is both stimulating and educational.
As more residents enter their retirement years, they rediscover the library. We reached out to this population by increasing the number of afternoon programs. We also presented book talks and computer classes at the Buzzell Elderly Services Center.
The Children’s Department presented events that made learning fun with many programs focusing on science and technology including robotics, stop motion animation, bats, rainforest creatures and more. The library also continued to support the Wilmington Public School teachers and curriculum. Children’s Librarian Barbara Raab hosted two kindergarten school nights and a Math Literature Night at the library. She also made presentations to elementary school classes on research and library resources and attended the Wilmington Public Schools annual STEM night. Teen Services Librarian Alison Schwartz gave presentations at the Wilmington High School demonstrating the library’s databases to sophomores working on research papers. She also helped Lisa Desberg and Maura Tucker’s ‘Facing History’ class by locating resources and literature on the topic of genocide to aid in their final project.
With the ever increasing number of mobile devices, the library looks to provide new services for enjoyment and learning via the internet.In January, we purchased a subscription to Hoopla, a digital streaming service for movies, music and audiobooks. Patrons have access to thousands of titles – from major Hollywood studios, record companies and publishers – available to borrow for instant streaming or temporary downloading to their smartphones, tablets and computers. In November, we purchased a subscription to Lynda.com, the robust online training tutorial that provides access to over 3,000 video courses in technology, education and business led by industry experts.
This year, Technology Librarian Brad McKenna introduced 3 D printing at the library. With funding from Friends of the Library, our own 3 D printer will allow us to continue to expand instruction on this disruptive technology that made news everywhere in 2014. In addition, classes were offered on Pinterest, Twitter, Craigslist, LinkedIn, Cloud Computing and more.
Robert Putnam, author of “Bowling Alone,” writes People may go to the library looking for information, but they find each other there. The library’s program offerings for all ages provide the opportunity to meet old and new friends while learning something new, doing a craft, having a book discussion, or talking about foreign and domestic affairs. Two new groups were formed in the spring- Needleworkers and Networkers. The Needleworkers group meets weekly on Friday morning and welcomes all who knit, crochet, quilt, or do any other kind of needlework. Attendees bring projects and share a little camaraderie and refreshments while they work away. Networkers, that meets on the second and fourth Mondays of the month, offers tips and support for those who are looking for work or contemplating a job change. On the first Monday of the month, a group of thrifty patrons meet to share and exchange coupons. We held two “After Hours” concerts, one in February and one in December when the first floor of the library was transformed into a club style setting with performances by Boston area musicians. These sold out events bring repeat and new attendees.
Thanks to funding from the Friends of the Library 2013 Annual Appeal, the preschool space in the Children’s Room was made more inviting with the addition of in-room activities and toys that promote the five early literacy activities. We are now seeing more parents visiting with each other while their children are having a great time with collaborative and creative play.
The library demonstrated once again how we are able to offer services that meet different community needs. For the second year, the library served as a pick up location for Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) with Farmer Dave of Dracut. Every Thursday afternoon from June to October, over fifty people came to the library to pick up their CSA share. On Saturday September 20, over 150 people brought papers and documents to be shredded at the library’s annual shredding event.
We engaged the community by bringing people together with various contests and celebrations. We celebrated National Library Week in April with our first “Edible Books Contest.” Contestants were invited to create something edible that was book related. The individual and family entries were all creative and fun. Also in April, the library sponsored “Week of the Young Child” art show. Six center based programs and seven family daycares submitted artwork from 230 children that was on display for one week, followed by a reception for the child artists and their families. The library’s annual poetry contest with the theme “reading,” brought in over 200 entries followed by a poetry reading celebrating the winners.
The Friends of the Library exemplify community support in making our library the best it can be. In 2014, the Friends supported the library with $18,000 for programs, $2900 for the literacy toys and furniture, $1950 for museum passes, $1500 for staff conferences and $2365 for new circulating tote bags. Kudos to all the volunteers who help out at the Friends Book Store Next Door, an enterprise that provides revenue supporting library programs and initiatives. In addition, the Friends raise money through its membership drive, annual appeal and gift basket drawings.
One of the most important goals in our strategic plan is to increase the visibility and utilization of library resources. While continuing to distribute quarterly events brochures throughout the town, we looked for new ways to get the word out. This year, Assistant Library Director Charlotte Wood and Marketing Librarian Pamela Gardener distributed the event brochures to commuters at the Wilmington MBTA station in the early morning. We are also utilizing social media in a more consistent manner with regular postings on Facebook and Twitter.
The feedback from the strategic planning survey and focus groups confirm that the library staff is highly regarded for being friendly, knowledgeable, collaborative, and innovative. Staff kept current on emerging technologies, trends and new services by attending national and regional conferences, workshops, webinars, and in service training. Thanks to funding from the Friends of the Library, Library Director Tina Stewart and Children’s Librarian Barbara Raab attended the Public Library Association Conference in March in Indianapolis. Keeping the public and the staff as safe as possible is also important. At the December staff meeting, Lieutenant Scott Sencabaugh, Wilmington Police Department, provided training on ALICE, the active shooter response strategy for dealing with the unlikely occurrence of a violent incident.
Staff changes this past year include the following: Brad McKenna joined the staff in March, replacing Curtis Wyant as the Technology Librarian; Pamela Gardner joined the staff in May replacing Joanna Breen as the Marketing Librarian: Anna Call replaced Marissa Szumowski in July as the Adult Services Librarian. Barbara Michaud, Assistant Children’s Librarian retired in July with 16 years of service at the Wilmington Library. Victoria Waitt began work as the Assistant Children’s Librarian in July. Lisa Crispin joined the staff in October replacing Gayle Field as the Children’s Library Associate.
The outside book and media return that has proven popular for its drive up convenience was replaced with a new one designed and built by Shawsheen Valley Technical High School students. DPW installed the book and media return in June.
A new vinyl floor was installed in the library multipurpose conference room in May replacing old carpeting. The new floor brightens the room and is washable, which is a plus, since the room is used for crafts as well as lectures. Sound proofing ceiling tiles were installed in this room creating an environment more conducive to presentations and large crowds.
The Town’s VOIP phone system was installed at the library in September replacing the phones that were more than 25 years old.
As we implement the Strategic Plan FY16-FY20, we remain committed to meeting the ever changing needs of residents of all ages. While remaining attuned to an ever-changing environment, we will strive to provide Wilmington with the kind of library that benefits our users and makes Wilmington a great place to live.
(as of December 31, 2014)
Library Director -Christina Stewart
Assistant Library Director -Charlotte Wood
Administrative Assistant- Gloria Corcoran
Children’s Librarian- Barbara Raab
Technology Librarian- Bradley McKenna
Marketing Librarian- Pamela Gardner
Teen Services Librarian- Alison Schwartz
Adult Services Librarian- Anna Call
Assistant Children’s Librarian - Victoria Waitt
Assistant Technical Services Librarian - Linda Harris
Circulation Librarian- Linda Pavluk
Adult Department Circulation Assistants
Ruth Ellen Donnelly, Desiree Maguire, Maureen Walsh
Technical Services Assistant- Diane DeFrancesco
Children’s Department Library Associates
Lisa Crispin, Sonia Lacombe
Melody Almaida, Hunter Ball, Eric Berube,
Britney Chin, Morgan Higgs, Ruju Trivedi,
Megan Waring, Rebeka Wierzbicki