Dear Dothan Houston County Library System Patrons:
It’s almost a full year since I began my tenure as your Library Director and it’s been such an honor and a privilege to oversee public library service and get to know this stellar community. The Wiregrass is indeed one of the nation’s best kept secrets. As I am out and about meeting you all and talking more in-depth about library service, beyond the usual small talk questions about where I’m from (Toronto), and which of the 2 college football teams I'm required to support (still deciding), there are 2 most-asked questions I seem to have to field more often than any others:
1. Are public libraries still relevant in the age of ebooks, the Internet and Amazon?
2. Does the library still accept used book donations?
I always answer both of these with a resounding YES.
To answer the first question there is a wealth of information and academic studies that show how libraries unequivocally enrich lives, contribute to early childhood literacy, enhance education, fuel economic development, and support a higher quality of life in their communities. The return on investment in our new libraries speaks for itself as demonstrated by the high levels of actual patron use. Recently, I got up in front of both the City and County Commissions to provide a brief update on the library and presented some preliminary use/user statistics.
As you can see from the graphic below, in my first 8 months, a large segment of our total population are regularly using the new buildings. They are getting library cards, checking out materials, accessing our technology, attending our programs, using our meeting/study rooms, or just enjoying a quiet moment to themselves in these new community spaces. An astounding 476,160 people have gone through our gates in 8 months. Libraries here in Houston County are vibrant and used. We are a community hub for all residents.