April 18, 2013 in Washington Voices

One-day survey shows how Washington libraries are used

By The Spokesman-Review
 
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Kate Burns and her daughter, Charlotte, 6, look for music CDs and books to check out during a visit Monday at the Spokane Public Library South Hill Branch.
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When Jaimie Sassone moved to Spokane from Virginia Beach, Va., she said one of the first places she went to visit was the local library.

On Tuesday, she was at the South Hill branch with her 5-year-old son, Hayden. He was busy playing educational computer games at pbskids.org and Sassone had already filled a bag with bedtime books for the rest of the week.

“We come here at least once a week. A library is a great place to learn about the community you just moved to,” Sassone said, interrupted by Hayden’s occasional announcements that he won another game.

Tuesday was Library Snapshot Day across Washington. That’s the day where libraries count and register every kind of service they provide and create a snapshot of library use.

“We do this to get an idea of how the library is used,” said Cathy Bakken, reference librarian at the South Hill branch.

That morning, Bakken said she and other staff members had already helped someone find information about how to become a firefighter, helped people search for jobs online and conducted the first toddler story time. The next story time was lining up.

Sassone said she had made friends at the library’s story time when she was new to town barely a year ago.

“Hayden is not in school yet, so where do you go when you don’t know anyone?” Sassone said.

On Tuesday, library users were encouraged to fill out a comment form and take snapshots of each other for the library’s Facebook page.

Earlier this year, Spokane voters approved a four-year library tax plan. Without the levy lid lift – which increases taxes by $7 a year on a property assessed at $100,000 – neighborhood branches faced closures.

“We were very pleasantly surprised that it passed,” Bakken said. “And we are very grateful that we don’t have to close any branches.”

Bakken said the library offers a huge DVD collection. Audiobooks are also a hit as is access to the database, Zinio, which allows library users to browse among the latest issues of 150 magazines on their tablets. For free, of course.

“What we hope to get out of snapshot day is also to be able to compare our system to other library systems similar in size,” Bakken said. “And it gives us an idea of how to best allocate our resources.”

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