Cobourg Council – Cobourg Library Reports Burgeoning Numbers

In City Hall, Local

By Cecilia Nasmith/Today’s Northumberland
Cobourg Public Library Chief Executive Officer Tammy Robinson reported burgeoning numbers for the first five months of 2024 to Cobourg council at its June meeting.

Robinson led off with a few recent highlights before getting to the numbers, such as the new VOX books with attached audio readers, engaging displays to highlight their special collections and the April 8 event where they distributed free solar-eclipse-viewing glasses to 180 participants, “despite the fact that you could not see the eclipse – we live-streamed CBC,” she said.

Now that they are offering memberships at outreach events, membership numbers are growing. There is an 8% increase in memberships held by citizens for the first five months of 2024 over the first five months of 2023 – 700 new memberships for a total of 10,845 card holders.

Program attendance is up by 17%, or 1,500 more attending over last year.

In-house computer lab use is up by 30% or more than 3,800 computer lab sessions – about 1,000 more than last year. Seniors are a key group here, Robinson noted, using library facilities to get help with government sites, e-mail and Facebook.

“And many people still don’t have a computer at home, or they use our library lab to access the printers,” she added. At 15 cents per page, this is way more affordable than buying a printer, ink and paper.

Visits to the library – where they come through the gate and enter the library – are up by 5%, or about 2,700 more over last year. That was about 45,000 visits by the end of May.

Checkouts of e-books and audiobooks are up 26% – 6,000 additional check-outs, bringing the total to 25,000.

Meeting-room revenue is up, with rentals rising by 12%. The Rotary Room is now rented out 87% of the available time, and the Rotary Club has helped the with significant audio-visual upgrades.

“It’s not all rainbows and sugar cookies,” Robinson said, turning the discussion to some challenges.

Staffing, for example, has become an issue, They’ve had to go to curbside delivery three days due to staff shortages.

Washroom vandalism is getting to be an issue. They check washrooms frequently and lock them 15 minutes prior to closing.

“We have had to replace a fan. Someone decided to set a fire. We replaced a wall, some plumbing and toilets,” she listed.

They have installed cameras outside these doors and, combined with knocking on the doors every 10 minutes, find that there is some deterrent effect.

They tried a system where one had to request the key, but the problem is that the keys didn’t always come back. As well, it’s a solution that can hamper users’ dignity.

And now that the “new” library is 30 years old, problems are developing in such areas as plumbing, electrical infrastructure and the roof.

Future plans include events to celebrate its 30th anniversary next year, service delivery reviews and looking at every grant possible. They are also examining available space to make the best use of what there is.

“We want to grow our services to match our growing community,” she said, adding that perhaps archive space soon to be vacated in favour of a new facility might be made available.

“Maybe we can work something out.”

In addition to the two Hamilton Township branches, they are looking at adding two more – in Baltimore and Cold Springs.

Mayor Lucas Cleveland offered his own comments.

“I would like to personally say thanks on behalf of myself,” Cleveland said.

“When I started, I saw the library as a massive expense that needed to be trimmed. We met on a regular basis, and I was educated on the range of services and how many thousands of residents are served. Thank you for taking that time.”

He also complimented the library on their initiatives to make users feel safer.

“I have dozens of emails saying thank you for work I wasn’t responsible for. The library staff took the time to create a more safe and welcoming family environment.”

“I’m glad you are excited about the library because you will be getting an email asking you to help out with reading time and summer programming,” Robinson said.

“If you are ready for 60 to 80 kids, we can’t wait to have you”

Cecilia Nasmith
Author: Cecilia Nasmith

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