Monday, January 07, 2008


2007 - It was the Best of Times...

This year closes with a bang, and the staff are whimpering from exhaustion! We have some incredible end-of-the-year figures on library use in beautiful Chambers County. In 2006, our children’s section circulated 55,408 items; in 2007, it was 64,889. Our total library circulation was equally astounding for a one-year change: in 2006, the total circulation was 193,612; in 2007, 238,657! A corresponding increase in visits to the libraries by our residents was also seen: in 2006, we had 124,227 visitors, and in 2007, 151,748 folks walked in the doors.

What’s causing this surge? Is it all from population growth? Believe it or not, the West Chambers Branch, with our highest population, garners 2nd place in our trio. The Chambers County Library in Anahuac holds pride of place, and the huge increases there indicate a major change in the way that residents now view the library as a spot for them to send faxes, make copies, use the computers for all manner of activities, and of course, check out books, DVDs, and other items. Programming has expanded over the past 5 years at Anahuac as well, and that accounts for a lot of traffic.

This off-the-cuff analysis can’t neglect the two branches, however. Winnie, which for years held the crown for our busiest site, has not burrowed below the covers. Indeed, Winnie has also seen large increases, and that big library marquee right on Highway 124 draws travelers off the highway on their way to points south to make use of our services and to inquire about local restaurants. It’s just that Anahuac and Mont Belvieu have forged ahead, and it is to be expected that in a short time, Mont Belvieu will pass Anahuac, due to the sheer force of numbers of people residing in those west side precincts.

I cannot let this report go by without noting that we are doing this with no increase in space, no increase in staff. We’ve had some critical issues as a result; we had to cut service hours over the summer at Anahuac, for example, because we didn’t have enough warm bodies. We’ve traditionally had solid financial support from the County to keep us going, and we got increases in a couple of line items last year and this to help us along. But our Friends of the Library System, and grants that have been awarded to us in 2007, made huge differences in what we could buy in the way of DVDs, large print books, computer equipment and young adult area furniture. We also received $7,000.00 to purchase books in memory of loved ones this year, which is another great tribute from the public – they perceive the libraries as a good place to remember their departed ones.

I’d love to go on and on, but I think I’ll just suggest that everyone keep an eye out for our CCLS Annual Report. We hope it thrills all our library supporters as much as it does us. Happy New Year from the best library system in Texas!

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