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Usage of RR Public Library up 36% over last year!

By Michael Dawber

Rainy River – Business at the Rainy River Public Library is up. Way, way up!
The numbers are in the library’s 2011 annual report, which has just been released.
In 2011, the library loaned 12,926 items. This is 36% more than in 2010, and the highest annual total since 1997.
“We couldn’t be happier,” says Librarian Michael Dawber.
“The library board and staff have all worked very hard to build the library collection, and to improve our service to the community,” Dawber says.
“For example, we now offer free, unlimited DVD loans,” he says. “We’ve added over 100 new DVDs in the last year to meet the demand.”
“It’s very important to remember use of the library is going up, despite the fact our area lost some population recently,” says Library Board Chair Linda Armstrong.
“We signed up 94 new members last year,” she says, “so we are reaching new customers in new ways.”
For example, the library now offers ebooks and audiobooks on-line through the Overdrive service.
Rainy River Library customers downloaded 201 ebooks and 247 audiobooks in 2011.
The library also provided free internet access to 2,828 customers.
Fifty-nine of those customers took free computer lessons funded by the Community Access Program (CAP).
“CAP is vital,” says Dawber. “We don’t know if funding will continue for the program next fall.”
“We are really hoping it comes through for us.”
Dawber says the library’s biggest challenge in 2012 will be money.
“Our funding from the province has been frozen for 15 years,” he says.
“While we appreciate the support we get, we are trying to pay 2012 bills with 1996 dollars.”
“We’re stretched to the limit.”
This is one reason the library had to reduce hours recently.
The library also has to pick up the $850 cost of the Overdrive program in 2012.
Provincial funding for Overdrive has ended.
Copies of the annual report are available at the library.