Library reports increased in-person engagement, collection expansion

Posted 1/24/23

For Cranston Public Library (CPL), 2022 was a year of building back to pre-pandemic numbers. With a total of 182,675 library visits between July 1, 2021, and June 30, 2022, CPL saw an increase in …

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Library reports increased in-person engagement, collection expansion


For Cranston Public Library (CPL), 2022 was a year of building back to pre-pandemic numbers. With a total of 182,675 library visits between July 1, 2021, and June 30, 2022, CPL saw an increase in print circulation (4.6 percent), program attendance (150.6 percent) and visits to the main library and its branches (30.5 percent) since the year before.

On Friday, Library Director Ed Garcia said the numbers are slowly getting back to normal and moving in an upward trajectory.

In-person programs made a big comeback this past year with 10,569 individuals attending one of the CPL’s 743 offerings. In the 2021 impact report, there were 51 in-person programs due to the pandemic; however, the library had increased its virtual offerings at the time to 413. The library backed off on its virtual programs in 2022 but still held 94 online events that brought in 2,788 attendees.

Garcia said going forward the library will still keep some of its programs virtual, but there is a push to grow the in-person programs and get people back into the library.

Garcia added that CPL is currently at 85 percent of its pre-pandemic circulation.

“We had a 2.7 percent increase year over year,” Garcia said. “For cardholders the 27,000 number was the number on June 30, 2022. We have already seen an increase and today we are at 28,763. So we are steadily seeing a growth in usage as our patrons return.”

During 2022 CPL provided a range of opportunities for adults, children, teens and families. Through a $30,000 grant from the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, CPL developed its Healthy Families initiative which focused on adult health. The library held 26 events on topics such as stress reduction, healthy eating, brain health and low-impact exercising.

“A unique goal of this grant was our increased ability to provide health information in languages other than English,” reads the impact report which was released earlier last week. “The installation of touchscreen Health Information kiosks at Central and William Hall Library adds a modern way for library users to search for trusted, up-to-date health information from curated sources.”

The library received the year-long grant in the fall of 2021. While all the funding has been used, CPL has continued scheduling the Healthy Families sessions.

The library also evolved its partnership with the local organization OneCranston Health Equity Zone this year and, together, co-hosted over 25 events including storytimes, community conversations and flu vaccines.

2022 was also a year of increased community service at the library. One hundred and forty-four teens completed over 1,000 community service hours between July 1, 2021, and June 30, 2022; this was 300 more hours of service than the previous year. Some of teens’ volunteer time included helping with summer reading programs, participating in Teen Team and book clubs, completing community service projects and writing for the Teen Blog.

“Some of our projects included creating over 500 holiday cards for the Senior Center, stickering books for Reach Out and Read RI (an organization that provides free books to families through their primary care doctor) and baking and packaging homemade treats for Help the Homeless RI,” reads the report.

Investments were made to the children’s collections through the addition of over 100 audio-enabled books which will support kids’ growth as readers. The books have playback devices built in, so children can press a button and listen to the story.

Some of the library’s program highlights included the adult summer reading and visiting authors who came from nearby and far away to present their books to patrons.

In the summer, CPL launched a redesigned website to streamline access to its most popular services. The library also added new digital services to its collection including access to the Consumer Reports database.

Two special events did return to William Hall Library this year: the free summer concert series sponsored by Cranston Parks and Recreation Department and the Friends of the Library Used Book Sale which had thousands of material for sale.

While the data came out as expected, Garcia was surprised about how high the notary services number was. In 2022 there were 844 notary services performed versus 269 the year prior.

The library did see an approximate 9 percent drop in the number of cardholders from 2021 to today. Garcia said the active cardholders are still the same, but some of the cards may be purged due to expiring, the owner moving away or an individual passing on. He added that audio visual material is continuing in a downward trend since there is less content coming out. Additionally, the number of interlibrary loans (materials provided by other libraries) and number of materials received decreased from last year to this year.

In 2023, Garcia said the library will have a full schedule of youth and family programs across the city and that the staff is working on adding a new story time program at the Knightsville branch (adding to its current storytimes at Central, Hall, Oaklawn and Auburn locations); this will launch in spring 2023. CPL also launched a new Sensory Storytime this past fall at the Auburn branch which will continue in 2023.

The library is also focused on getting people back in the library, strengthening its core services and letting people know that they are back in operation. CPL released its five year strategic plan for 2022-2027 earlier this year and is looking to increase the number of library card holders in underserved communities; this work will be completed by conducting data mapping to analyze and identify census tracts with low card holder adoption. The library is also looking to support the community by increasing library outreach in the community, building strong partnerships with local organizations and supporting economic growth and workforce development. In planning for the future, CPL intends to evaluate its current spaces, anticipate future needs and increase sustainability, resiliency and energy efficiency in its buildings.

library, engagements, expansion


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