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Library Lights: A snapshot of the Sugar Grove Public Library's year

SUGAR GROVE – The Illinois Public Library Annual Report is an annual report submitted to the state of Illinois. It provides a baseline of year to year and provides insight of our operations. I thought it would be interesting to provide a bit of the data to our patrons. Our last fiscal year ran July 1, 2016, to June 30, 2017, and here are a few highlights.

Our fiscal accumulations remain minuscule, with $203,000 in reserves for emergencies. Because of tax caps that provide only for a Consumer Price Index raise each year on our levy on the total equalized assessed value of the property in our district – the population is 15,701 in the district – we are severely restricted.

My loose estimate of what we need to address in the next few years for repairs and technology upgrades range about $80,000, and that is what we can plan for. Mostly this is floor crack replacements, painting, sorely needed Wi-Fi and tech upgrades, etc. We will be addressing a portion of this in the next month with roof repair, fixing an ongoing leak and repitching gutters to better handle water flow. As we consider our future, I would like our patrons to recognize that it is important to take care of what we have with necessary repairs, upgrades and maintenance. We will shortly be crossing the decade mark of the “new” library, and just like a home at a decade mark, there are always things that need to be done to take care of the public’s investment.

We have come in on budget, barely, but have not been able to provide for increases in spending for materials and collections in three years as we, by default, have to address rising costs in other areas. This year our revenue also declined; though we were awarded a per capita grant by the state, Illinois has yet to disburse checks. As such, our purchases for library books and materials dropped by more than $12,000. Other revenue held steady for the most part, and donations were greatly appreciated. Other revenue, such as impact fees, increased, which is hopefully a sign of the return to building and strengthening equalized assessed value.

Expenditures for staff increased as we needed to add a part-time “floater” as we can’t do things such as cover maternity leaves, conduct outreach, run a booth at the Corn Boil or much else unless we are able to staff our facility. Our staff count holds at 14 people, all part time. The Illinois Public Library Annual Report puts it all together and calculates us at an 8.38 full-time equivalent, which is pretty amazing considering we are working at our max potential with programming, reference, activities and children’s literacy events. We are doing all that with a limited staff, but I cheer each of them for their dedication, professionalism and nonstop passion.

In total, we presented 442 programs with 6,898 patrons attending, and an additional 4,759 patrons used passive programs such as museum passes, coloring sheets and small yearlong programs. Our total number of registered users – those with cards that are active in our system – is 5,309. I would encourage patrons to attend our specials, children’s events, knitting/film/book/writing groups and even join us for Open Mic nights with music and readings. We’re strengthening our cultural economy day by day while also keeping with the foundations of literacy and learning.

In total, people visited the library 72,844 times, which is a 7.7 percent increase from last year. Reference transactions increased by 13 percent to 16,748, which means that people still value and need the help of a librarian – maybe even more so as we navigate digital literacy. Our circulation of physical items in our collection was 126,953, which is pretty darn amazing for a building our size, and people used our technology 16,698 times for wireless and computer sessions. E-book circulation is up, up, up, which means more books are being read on devices, while print also holds steady. We’ve done a great deal in terms of programming and projects this year, and I’m proud of how hard our team is working.

We welcome your feedback as we close this year, and an annual report download will be available on our website shortly at https://www.sgpl.org/. Thank you for a wonderful year, Sugar Grove.

Shannon Halikias is the director of the Sugar Grove Public Library, a professor at College of DuPage, leads a local writing group and is an active outdoors lover with two rowdy boys. You can reach her at shannon@sgpl.org. Feedback on this column can be sent to editorial@kcchronicle.com.

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