New projects highlight Jervis Public Library annual report

Published Mar 20, 2018 at 4:10pm

The staff at Jervis Public Library was anticipating a 2017 focused on tying up loose ends from a busy 2016 rather than embarking on new projects, noted Director Lisa M. Matte in her annual report. Things did not go as planned.

While preparing to replace the carpet in the Dillon Room in February, the supervisor of building and grounds asked about funds to completely remodel the room if the work was done in-house. The Dillon Room was created as a magazine room in 1968.

Before 1968, it served as a garage for the Mid-York Library system’s bookmobile. No changes or updates had been made since then other than new windows in a 2006-2007 construction project. “The room is now brighter, easier to heat and cool, and more inviting with a row of café tables along the windows,” Matte said.

The library logged a number of significant projects in 2017:

  • The Rome Daily Sentinel is now digitized and searchable from any library computer.
  • Self-checkout was installed.
  • Connect with the Classics book discussion was revived after a long hiatus thanks to a retired Mohawk Valley Community College librarian who volunteers.
  • Sale of E-Z Pass was launched, making Jervis the second library in the state approved as a retail outlet.
  • The C. C. Reid Gallery of Prominent Citizens was digitized and the portraits displayed in the Jervis House.
  • Free books for summer storytime attendees were added, serving as a pilot for a county-wide program to launch in 2018.
  • The Maker Station for visitors to create Rome Rocks.

As the library’s ticket-selling function is publicized, it sees more use, Matte said. In 2017, some of the most popular tickets were for Rome City School District shows, Rome Community Theater and Water Safari. On one day in April, the library sold 198 tickets to RFA’s production of “Grease.”

Jervis is reprising its annual role of sole tax form distributor, providing appointments for people to learn to submit their taxes online.

An onsite notary public notarized 135 documents in 2017. The library sold 84 tickets to Water Safari and 22 E-Z Passes.

“We held programs in conjunction with the county, the city, and just about every non-profit in the area,” Matte reported. “In 2018, we will add a small meeting space and create a more functional fax/copy area. We are proud of our response to the needs of the public; the staff makes it happen even when keeping up is challenging.”

Much of the help provided at Jervis is technology assistance and access, said Matte. “None of this can be accomplished without the staff and volunteers who are on hand to help someone get a copy of a Social Security earnings report despite multiple barriers, or help printing a Greyhound bus ticket, a boarding pass, court documents, and concert tickets. We also help people fax and scan to email to set up payment plans for utilities, provide documents for their retirement, and to submit claims to insurance.”

Scheduled Drop in Tech Help sessions provided 143 people with one-on-one assistance for extended periods of time. There were 85 on-demand sessions.

In 2017, there were approximately 37,000 computer use sessions, about a third of which were uses of the WiFi network, and 50,000 visits to the library’s website from outside the library. To meet demand for longer sessions for work, business and school use, Jervis will construct an expanded Computer Lab in 2018 with grant money.

“Traditional library services remain popular. We cannot eliminate these to add tech services; instead we have to offer both,” Matte said.

The most popular programs this year were the eclipse glasses giveaway and lawn viewing party that 435 people attended, a mini-golf fundraiser and semi-annual Recycling Days.

Repeating programs include a series with the Alzheimer’s Association, information about the state’s health insurance options, monthly legal clinic, UnPlug & Play game time, three book discussion groups, story times, a Teen Advisory Group, author appearances and a writers’ group.

More than 200,000 items were borrowed from Jervis in 2017, more than 52,000 reference questions were answered and meeting rooms were used for non-library business more than 100 times.  

Staff and volunteers represent Jervis at community events as well. Jervis launched nine Little Free Libraries and staff attended multiple off-site events including Halloween on the Griffo Green, Taste of Rome, Staley Literacy Fair, Rome Home Show and Rooted in Rome.

What was popular to read or watch at Jervis last year? For teens, it was television series “Thirteen Reasons Why,” along with “Carve the Mark,” by “Divergent” author Veronica Roth, “Paper Towns” by “The Fault in Our Stars” author John Green.

Six of the top 12 books for children were by Jeff Kinney, who wrote the “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” series. This series was joined by Nancy Drew and Captain Underpants as the most popular titles for children.

Biographies of public figures and those who were the subject of buzz in 2017 were the most popular including: “Settle for More” by Megyn Kelly, television series “The Magnolia Story,” “The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo” by Amy Schumer and “Alexander Hamilton” by Ron Chernow.

The top five mysteries in 2017 were by James Patterson. Native Roman Harry Dolan has published a new book, which will be promoted in Jervis’ Mystery a la Carte book discussion series later in 2018.

Circulation of digital materials exceeded 20,000 items for the first time in 2017. This doubles circulation of three years ago. The library issued 1,682 new library cards. Volunteer hours by teens and adults totaled 567, an average of 11 hours per week. One hundred children who completed the Summer Reading Program spent 120,767 minutes reading for fun.

The most popular DVDs in 2017 were “Moana, “Suicide Squad” and “Zootopia.”

The busiest day of the year was Monday, Aug. 21 — Eclipse Day — with 1,475 people through the door, followed by Wednesday, Aug. 2, with 1,063 through the door for the library’s annual book sale.

What the public doesn’t see is the behind-the-scenes work completed in 2017 to verify the library’s inventory of more than 100,000 items and convert it to RFID technology to better manage the inventory and to further streamline processes, Matte noted.

Further inventory verification and standardization will be completed in 2018.

Although there are some self-serve stations, Jervis has used technology to free the staff to spend more one-on-one time with people who visit online, on the phone and in person. The daily requests require staff to have more in-depth knowledge of a broader range of technology and are higher on what educators know as Bloom’s Taxonomy, Matte said. “This means the requests are more about synthesis, creating a product to take with them when they leave the library. This takes more time. We do this while being open nearly 60 hours per week with a staff that equals 20 full-time employees.”

Matte concluded: “What Jervis does with a budget that has increased only 4 percent since 2005 is remarkable. Our mission is to help people, and we do that while returning at least $5 in service for every tax dollar invested with us. I again extend my sincere thanks to the staff, trustees, elected officials, donors, and volunteers who make it possible for us to carry out our mission.”

Board of Trustees President James W. Cusack issued his thoughts in the president’s annual message. “Today Jervis Library’s staff provide not only a large circulation of books, but a large and growing collection of electronic offerings from basic internet access, streaming videos, eBooks and even iPods. Interestingly, we even lend snow shoes and fishing gear.”

Staff functions well beyond the role of classic librarians providing outreach, Cusack said. There’s Little Free Libraries and services to the local schools and individual students. “I’m continually impressed with the capacity of our library to continually adopt new technologies and make them available to our patrons,” he said.

At the library, staff help with Social Security enrollment, snowmobile registrations, access to tax services and forms and assistance to many who have internet access but need a “sympathetic guide” to obtain the services they need.  

Under Matte’s guidance and with the assistance of Assistant Director Kari Tucker and Administrative Assistant Heather Wilson, “we’ve accomplished a number of noteworthy milestones,” Cusack said. “Our staff and its leadership continue to provide ever-improving and quality services to our patrons and the greater community. Although this year will bring challenges, I’m confident that we will weather the storms ahead, and I look forward to another successful year.”