photo of Akron Main Library

One year ago I wrote a letter for ShelfLife listing our library’s intentions for 2016. We had made ten promises to voters in passing our property tax levy in May 2015, and we planned to begin the work to keep those promises in 2016. As the following indicates, in our first year of additional funding we have completed eight of those promises (√ ), with a ninth in progress. The tenth will be pursued in 2017-18.

Restoring Function and Capacity

Restore summer Sunday hours at Main Library and Wednesday branch hours.

Branch Hours are now MTWTh: 10 am-8 pm,F: 12-6 pm, S: 10 am-5 pm. Main Library is once again open on Sundays from
1-5 pm all year.

Fill selected vacant positions to ensure appropriate staffing levels.

Fifteen positions have been filled at branches, along with the long vacant Downtown Services Manager position.

Significantly increase levels of book and A-V purchases, including a larger e-book collection.

The materials budget has been increased by over $500,000 in 2016, enabling purchase of more items in all formats, including more e-content through Overdrive and Hoopla. All are now available through the Library’s mobile app.

Investing in Infrastructure

Maintain and upgrade technology to accommodate network needs and mobile users.

We completed a system-wide upgrade to WiFi capacity and speed in July, with additional capacity added to desktop computers throughout system.

Return to a timely standard of excellent care of facilities and grounds.

We budgeted an increase of over $350,000 for building and site repair. Increases in groundskeeping, furniture, and equipment have enabled completion of many projects. These include HVAC repairs, meeting room carpet replacement in three branches, concrete sidewalk repairs, and lighting replacements, with more to follow.

Providing New and Enhanced Services

Make free online tutoring help available for any student with library card.

Tutor.com became available in September to library cardholders.

Provide streaming media service to our customers.

Hoopla is now available with streaming movies and audio, plus more e-books for our customers.

Strengthen support for microbusiness and workforce development.

Through a Knight Foundation grant, the Microbusiness Center at Main Library officially opened in April 2016. The accompanying maker space, the TechZone@Main, has also opened, incorporating the resources, equipment, and digital media training of the Akron Digital Media Center into this space. Lynda.com is also now available, offering a broad array of online training and learning experiences.

• Establish satellite facility in the underserved Springfield/ Lakemore community.

We have identified space in the Tri-County Plaza and hope to have a finalized lease in 2016. We are preparing for the new facility by creating a collection, obtaining shelving and furnishings, and identifying needed technology. As we get closer to opening, we will hire staff with a goal of opening for service in the spring of 2017. Progress Made.

• Provide digital devices at all locations for student use.

With schools moving toward digital textbooks, making the devices students use in school available for their use in our buildings is key to avoiding a secondary digital divide. We plan to move forward on this commitment in 2017-18.

On behalf of the Library’s Board of Trustees, management, and staff, we again thank the residents of Akron and Summit County for their support. Hopefully you can see from our progress in 2016 that we have been vigilant about keeping those promises made to voters in 2015. The result of your support is a bright future for our organization’s ability to contribute to the quality of life in our community.