PAYETTE — While information technology has changed how we obtain information and read books and other content, the Payette Public Library is still holding its own according to its annual report.

Michael Campbell, president of the Library Board of Directors, brought up new things added to the library in 2019 including the finalization of the RFID project. 

The library plans to affix radio-frequency identification tags to every item in the library that can be checked out. According to Clay Ritter, library director, the system will allow for faster checkout by allowing patrons to place items in one stack on the reader to be checked out all at once.

“The RFID project is intended to lower wait times and allow staff flexibility in performing other duties such as holding programs and assisting patrons with other library tasks like finding books and forms as well as computer assistance,” said Ritter via email. “We plan to have the same number of library staff in use just utilizing them in different ways.”

Six drones, new board games and an advanced LEGO Club have also been added.

Also, the Idaho Department of Labor now has an office at the library, open on Mondays and Tuesdays, according to Campbell.

He also talked about building highlights for 2019:

With the carpet and roof cleaned and windows washed, the library has been able to make energy efficiency upgrades such as thermostat covers and replacements. LED lighting is being installed.

Automatic door openers have been installed and the library refurbished a downtown bench with their new logo.

“I encourage all of you to go down there and go to the library and get a quick tour and an update on the projects we have going,” Campbell told the Council.

He also highlighted that Ritter, who is President of the Valley Mountain Library Consortium, had the chance to speak at the Read to Me Rendezvous and the Idaho Library Association Conference in 2019.

According to Gheen, the Library gained 509 new patrons and a sale held in May helped raise an additional $1,000 in addition to regular library dues. There are 3,168 active library cards, 2,772 being for residents of Payette and 396 living outside of Payette.

The library added 1,880 items to its collection in 2019, with 166 being taken out of circulation. The library’s collection now spans 59,628 items, a 3% increase over 2018. Gheen noted that the Library’s e-book database saw the largest increase in use by patrons.

The library touted 419 programs held in 2019, with an average attendance of 34 people each. They also have occasional programs involving popular Pokémon characters.

“That was roughly one program every five and a-half hours of library operation,” said Gheen. “That place is always packed.” 

According to the report, the library’s IT system was streamlined and upgraded, internet range and service were enhanced with E-Rate funds, new robotics items were purchased, technology workshops were added, and five new desktop computers and one laptop were purchased. The library presently has 20 computers for access by the public.

Including board members, citizens and students, 18 volunteers worked 200 hours for the library in 2019.

The Payette Public Library Foundation, formed in March 2018, held four fundraisers in 2019. The Foundation presented grants totaling $48,350 in monetary and in-kind awards.

“We are also fortunate to have the great presentations at our programs, mostly Monday nights and summer reading,” said Board member Ron Warzyn.

The Library estimates that borrowers saved a total of $1,177,724 in 2019, based on the value of circulated items.

Ritter told the council the Library is also making preparations to expand its children’s programs just in case talks of a four-day school week in the Payette School District gain any traction. Ritter says he is looking at expanding educational programs.

“We’re preparing to be ‘the other publicly-funded daycare,’” joked Ritter. “We’re working on some bigger things with some of our other outreach partners in Idaho … Frankly, we don’t have the staff hours to be holding all-day programs on Friday, we’re just too busy trying to help people and get books checked in and out.”

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