By Tammy Gray
More than 450 Holbrook area residents rely on the public library as their only source of Internet access, according to the annual report from the Holbrook Public Library.
“In excess of ten percent of our population do not have access to the internet at home,” Librarian Wendy Skevington reported.
Over the course of 2014, the library provided that access as well as a myriad of other services to 51,075 visitors. Skevington noted that an average of 33 people visit the library every hour it is open. In addition to circulating 27,939 books, the library provided 7,864 computer sessions and loaned out 15,928 movies, 1,251 audiobooks, 436 music CDs and 300 magazines.
Skevington noted that in addition to lending physical books, the library also participates in an e-book program that allows patrons to download books to electronic readers without visiting the library in person. A total of 540 e-books were borrowed from the digital library by Holbrook library patrons over the course of the year.
In addition to lending books and other materials, the library offered 63 programs and activities that were attended by 1,977 people. Programs included science-oriented activities, such as building electronic circuit boards and Lego robots, as well as the summer reading program, which drew 147 participants who read a total of 63,120 minutes.
Library staff also assisted clients with building technical computer skills and job searches. According to Skevington, library staff members assisted more than 500 people with job searches and computer skills using a $20,000 library services and technology grant.
“People who would never use a computer in their daily life are now required to use a computer to apply for a job,” she noted.
In the upcoming year, the library will focus on expanding its social media presence and continuing to offer a full range of services to residents, including educational programs. Skevington noted that the Lego robot program will continue through the summer of 2015.
She pointed out that the library faces a few challenges, such as aging computers and software systems, and a limited amount of bandwidth available to patrons.
“It’s not enough,” she said regarding the bandwidth currently available, which is purchased by the library from Navajo County.
According to Skevington, she has been able to add some laptops and computers to the library’s inventory through grant funding, but within just a few years they are obsolete and are not built to last.
“Some of the newer ones are falling apart faster than the older ones,” she said regarding the physical durability of the computers.