This July 12, 2017 file photo shows the newly renovated basement of the Joyce K. Carver Memorial Library in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion, file)

This July 12, 2017 file photo shows the newly renovated basement of the Joyce K. Carver Memorial Library in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion, file)

Library checks out 2017 trends

In 2017, about 110,000 visitors walked through the doors of the Joyce K. Carver Memorial Soldotna Public Library borrowing more than 125,000 books and furthering the library’s mission to “build a better future.”

While reviewing the library’s year, City Librarian Rachel Nash checked out a lot of numbers including patronage, computer use and library program attendance.

“Digital checkouts was a big one this year,” Nash said. “We have had the Alaska Digital Library for several years now, since 2013, and we saw 13,810 checkouts this year. That is pretty significant and it’s just continually going up.”

Nash said the library saw about 11,500 digital checkouts last year, and she sees this year as part of an ongoing trend in digital checkouts.

The library also saw an increase in participation in their summer reading program, with 1,075 participants.

“This is the first year we’ve ever had 1,000,” Nash said. “That’s a pretty big milestone, it’s been our goal to reach 1,000 since I started here and through world of mouth and people coming in, we got there.”

The library also helped nearly 14,000 people connect online, whether by applying for jobs or the Permanent Fund Dividend, filing for taxes or keeping in touch with family and friends.

“That’s a really significant thing,” Nash said. “Within these numbers, we don’t know how many of those people don’t have access to a computer at hope, but you really do need access to the internet and computers to apply for jobs and stay in touch with loved ones.”

With these trends in mind, the library is looking forward to 2018 and beyond. The library board, working alongside a group of community members, passed a three year strategic plan on Jan. 15 that lays out the library’s mission to build a better future, and how they plan to do that.

“I’m really happy with the finished product,” Nash said. “It’s inspiring to see that everything we do on a daily basis is working towards these goals.”

The strategies laid out in the plan cover the spectrum of community wellness. The library hopes to help the community make informed decisions on the health, wealth and other life choices through partnerships and programs. They also hope to encourage young readers, help citizens become informed, satisfy curiosity and create lifelong learners, stimulate imagination, celebrate diversity and to create a comfortable place for people to visit.

“For me, I’m passionate about promoting early literacy,” Nash said. “…If our kids are not prepared to go to school and they’re not prepared to learn, that’s not good for our community. One of our focuses is creating young readers, working on helping kids enter school ready to read, write and listen.”

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