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Santa will be at Story Time!

December 14, 2015

Santa will be at Story Time Wednesday from 10:00-10:30 a.m. I don’t think it matters if you’ve been good or not, you can still come.

We’ve been talking about library history and change recently, and Story Time is one change. It used to be Story Hour, but in recent years we’ve been using recommendations from early literacy studies for structuring Story Time, and shorter periods is one of them.

Public libraries are the main literacy support for the families of infants and toddlers. We also promote the Imagination Library sponsored by Salida Sunrise Rotary—children from birth to five can get a book a month mailed to them for free. It’s a perfect program. All you have to do is sign up.

Story Time was once held in the library community room, which in 2012 was converted into the computer room when we remodeled. I miss the community room, but we couldn’t have everything and needed to re-allocate space in the library.

You’ll remember we had an election in 1995 to increase the operating mill levy as well as to build an addition to the 1908 Carnegie library. Since that time, the library has grown in many ways. The collection has certainly grown, and as many of you know we have a basement annex of compact storage—mobile shelving that rolls together—letting us keep well over 20,000 additional items.

Since 1995, we increased library hours from 40 to 70 hours per week, seven days a week. In fact, we even decreased holidays, staying open four days we’d previously closed.

The library’s circulation during that period increased over 300% while the district’s population increased around 16% (depending whom you asked and when). Our door counts went up about as much, the peak year being 2008.

The circulation per capita might be a better indicator, growing from 6.63 in 1995 to 21.96 in 2014. The peak so far was 2012 at 24.45. It’s reasonable to wonder how high this might go for a given population. There are other things to do, after all. If a higher percentage of our population were young children, the number might be higher.

Anyway, it’s not an arms race. We want to provide good access to the intellectual content of our culture both through our local collection and via access to larger networks, now so easy with Marmot and Prospector.

Although we’ve never done much library programming, as it’s called, given that we always conflicted with the many events and activities elsewhere in Salida, we have had some successful programs.

We ran the “Poetry on a Platter” poetry festival for a number of years, bringing poets from around the nation to Salida, Gunnison, and Montrose. The festival started the same year as the longer lived “Sparrows” winter poetry festival.

And for a while we ran opportunistic “Arts at the Library” programs on Sunday afternoons. Who would have guessed, but we regularly had 30 people, and sometimes many more, attend these talks and presentations on art, craft, writing, and poetry.

It was opportunistic in that whenever we had the chance to host somebody interesting, we did. The core events were talks by the artists displaying in the library. We would have a reception for and presentation by the current artist.

Our gallery space and schedule has been expertly managed for ten years by Sally Mather, and she and Barbara Ford have organized our annual challenge show, dreaming up a new theme each year. Thanks very much to them.

And, there’s always more history to come …

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