Morinville – Six months after moving to the basement of the Parish Hall, the Morinville Public Library is still going strong in its mission to serve patrons while renovations are being made to Civic Plaza on 100 Avenue. Although end of year statistics show some lower numbers over 2010 in some areas of library services, there are a number of increases that show just how well the library has been able to make sure readers and library users are being well served.
“The Morinville Library staff have done a great job keeping library services going at the Parish Hall,” said Library Manager Isabelle Cramp, noting patrons still have full access to new material the library has purchased, including books for all ages, audiobooks, DVDs, magazines, and video games as well as access to all the local newspapers.
Cramp said patrons unable to find what they are looking for on the shelves can have materials ordered in from one of the 250 libraries the Morinville Public Library is connected with. In 2011 the library ordered in 15,808 books and other materials for its patrons, an increase of more than 2,300 items over 2010.
But borrowing tangible materials from other libraries is not the only upswing the library saw in 2011. E-book and audio downloads have been increasingly popular at the Morinville Public Library. Although that may not be surprising given the median age in Morinville is 33.6, the trend is catching on with many older readers as well.
“Increasingly, our patrons are also accessing our e-resources and downloading e-books and audiobooks from the comfort of their home,” Cramp said, adding many of the reference questions she and her staff answered last year involved questions related to using e-readers and downloading electronic materials. Patrons asked 9,884 questions of library staff in 2011, 1,559 questions more than they asked in 2010. Although not all of the questions were related to digital reading, Morinville consistently has higher usage of the Overdrive system (the method by which patrons download electronic and audio books) than sister libraries in the region and library system Morinville belongs to. In 2011 Morinville Public Library patrons downloaded 1,590 electronic items, a number the library is confident will only increase as more and more titles are added to the system.
“The increase in Overdrive is mostly due to the popularity of the e-readers,” Cramp said, adding e-reader usage is not limited to any one age group but appeals to all ages due to the portability and convenience of the devices. “Many of our patrons have reported liking them when traveling. Also in winter, when the weather is not good, you can do all your shopping from home. There is also the appeal that one cannot get overdue fines with an e-reader, as the book will expire on your device automatically when the due date is reached.”
But while interlibrary loans and downloads are on the increase, 2011 saw a substantial decrease in people walking through the door. Library usage was down more than 7,000 visits last year from 28,493 in 2010 to 21,112 in 2011. Additionally, the total number of items the library circulated fell from 71,801 items in 2010 to 57,536 in 2011. Much of that decline has been in patrons who are waiting for the library to reopen in its expanded location, readers who may have forgotten the library is still very much ready to serve.
Despite diminished accommodations, the library still has a couple public computers visitors can use for their online needs, and copying and faxing services are still available to patrons. Additionally, he libraries three clubs – book, knitting and quilting – continue to meet at their regular dates and times at the Morinville Community Cultural Centre.
“Our goal during our time at the Parish Hall is to ensure that there is as little interruption as possible to our regular services, and I believe that the Staff has succeeded in doing just that,” Cramp said, adding it is business as usual at the library. Patrons unable to navigate the stairs can be served at the door simply by calling ahead to let staff know they are coming. “We may still be here at the Parish Hall for another three or four months, so come and see all that we can do for you.”