Library one of the best deals in town, says director

One of the best deals in town is how Marlene Moulton Janssen describes the Anoka County Library.

Moulton Janssen, the library system director, presented the 2012 annual report to the Anoka County Board June 11.

According to Moulton Janssen, the county library circulated over 2.8 million items in 2012 at a cost of $23 per person.

But the library does far more than just check out books, Moulton Janssen said.

“Add 103,000 hours of computer usage, or job training classes for 1,165 unemployed/underemployed learners, or support for 13,779 kids who kept their skills fresh through summer reading and any one of the other vibrant library services and it becomes clear that the Anoka County Library truly is a great investment,” she said in the report.

Partnerships with other agencies have been one of the library system’s successes in recent years, according to Moulton Janssen.

“The partnerships build bridges, assist in job searches, provide small business classes and a wealth of other opportunities to county residents,” Moulton Janssen told the county board.

Volunteers have also made a huge difference with 313 people (240 teens and 73 adults) volunteering 6,611 hours in 2012, she said.

More than 84 percent of county residents have library cards, Moulton Janssen said.

“It’s a well-used service,” she said. “We do provide significant value to residents on a convenient basis.

“Our staff, who are critical to our success, are dedicated to innovative teamwork and great customer experiences.”The library system has continued to upgrade the services it offers through technology.

According to Moulton Janssen, the library launched a Boopsie app in 2012 that allows patrons to access the catalog, place requests, renew items and download eBooks from their smartphones or mobile devices.

In addition, the library added more downloadable eAudiobooks to its free eBook service in 2012, while eBook checkouts continued to grow at a rapid rate with over 112,000 checkouts, Moulton Janssen said.

“This was more than double the checkouts in 2011, and eBooks circulated at a rate of over 15 times per title for the year,” she said.

Through a partnership with the Metropolitan Library Service Agency, a new service that has been introduced recently by the library system is the ability to download magazines, Moulton Janssen said.

There are more than 115 titles available, and Consumer Reports is the most popular, she said.

“And once it has been downloaded, you never need to return it,” Moulton Janssen said. “It can stay in your device for as long as you want it to.”

According to Moulton Janssen, the library is also involved in the community, working with Heading Home Anoka to increase awareness about homelessness. All branches served as a drop-off point for a shoe collection and food drive.

“There are so many activities going on at the libraries, it is hard to keep track of them,” Anoka County Board Chairperson Rhonda Sivarajah said.

And County Commissioner Julie Braastad, who is the county board’s liaison to the Anoka County Library Board, said that although 25 percent of the library staff are new, “they are very dedicated and have not missed a beat.”

“The library wants to keep up with technology and provide different tools than it used to,” she said.

According to the annual report, the library system collection totals 634,454 items, which broken down includes 510,554 books and magazines, 55,151 audio materials, 40,116 video materials, 21,423 eBooks, 2,928 eAudio and 4,282 other items.

On its subscription database, there were 1,950,651 document views in 2012, the annual report states.

The library system had 1,941,433 total visits in 2012, of which 1,017,572 were physical visits, 923,861 website visits, 378,820 mobile app views (Boopsie) and 31,071 people attending programs.

The Anoka County Library has eight locations: Centennial, Crooked Lake, Johnsville, Mississippi, North Central, Northtown, Rum River and St. Francis.

The Columbia Heights Public Library is not part of the county library system.

Peter Bodley is at
[email protected]