It is a privilege for me to report to you the activities of the library for the year just ending, which began last July with our summer reading program. The theme was: Your library card: where will it take you? Little did we know that that tag line was a question we would be asking about the year as a whole, as it was one full of change and new developments: in staffing, technology, services and programs. Credit goes to the entire staff, who worked together throughout the year as a team of dedicated professionals; and to our volunteers, who supported us in many ways, to make these accomplishments possible.
Summer reading took 230 children through 4,700 books, and a record number of teens through 265,000 minutes of reading and cultural experiences in a program called S.L.E.R.P. Summer Library Exploration and Reading Program. Adults who traveled posted photos of their library cards on location. Those who stayed at home came to the library for classes, book discussion and movies.
Our visiting summer authors took readers to places as familiar as Martha’s Vineyard to those as foreign as Afghanistan and the war in Iraq. Those who stayed in town also had the opportunity to attend the UN Committee Lecture in July, with David Kirkpatrick, Cairo bureau chief for the NYT.
Summer came to an end with our 5th annual Literary Luncheon, where a royal time was had by all who listened to author Sally Bedell Smith speak about the subject of her latest biography, Elizabeth the Queen.
With early fall came super storm Sandy and its aftermath, which brought thousands of people to the library in search of running water, hot coffee, power to charge their devices, and a community of people with whom to share their stories. For some, the library was not “the third place,” it was the only place to be. Following Sandy, the wireless network we upgraded after hurricane Irene the year before was made even better, thanks to your generous donations, and now has the capacity to handle 800 simultaneous users.
Private donations, along with a generous grant from the community foundation, also made the AV equipment upgrade in the Lamb Room possible. With high definition cameras, a professional-level tri-caster, and a mixing board for sound, we are able to produce quality recordings of nearly all of our programs at the Library. This equipment also gives us the ability to stream programs live on our website, which we did for the first time this spring. We also received a grant from the state of CT to install a hearing loop in this room.
Other exciting new content on the website are the staff postings to Goodreads, a networking site that allows us to share our books and reviews with the enormous community of readers in which we now take an active part; a series of instructional videos that teach patrons how to access and download all types of digital content to a variety of devices; and, our fledgling digital archive. Using open source software, available free of charge, we have embarked on a project to convert certain permanent, yet fragile, print collections to searchable digital files. We began with the collection of Dick Salant’s papers, and we are now digitizing our vertical file, beginning with biographical material related to prominent New Canaanites.
Our collections, both physical and digital, grow and evolve to meet the needs and interests of our community. This year our circulation stayed strong at nearly 500,000 items, and our e-book circulation increased by 50% from the prior year. We introduced e-commerce at our self-checkout stations; implemented a new 7-day loan service for high-demand book titles, packaged circulating bags of books on trendy topics; and genre-labeled our entire DVD and Blu-ray collections, to name a few new conveniences. Our program attendance at more than 900 library programs approached 25,000; In addition, more than 7,600 members of our community attended hundreds of meetings here.
Our program line-up was strong: Our patrons responded enthusiastically to a revamped computer class schedule, one that was in need of revitalization, and enjoyed our new Monday Movie series. We offered a 3-part lecture series on the Civil War beginning in September; Artscapades, a 5-part art appreciation series began in October; there were two programs on Alzheimer’s awareness and support; two musical performances during Autism Awareness Month; a monthly world events book group; 5 Notes in MidWinter concerts; 7 film discussions; and 8 art exhibits. These final three series, sponsored by the Friends of the Library, were funded with the proceeds from the Friends book sales.
Our annual lecture series were popular again this year: After Jon Zinsser form the New School delivered the Stoddard Art Lecture on the roots of contemporary art in October,
we went right to the Richard Salant Lecture at the high school in November. More than a thousand people were there. What a treat to have Brian Williams, Joe Scarborough, David Gergen and Peter Goldmark, Jr. participate in a panel discussion in our own home town.
Chase Carey, President and COO of News Corporation graciously made time in his busy schedule to be our speaker for Conversations with Business Leaders;
and the McDaniel Garden Design Lecture featured the gardens of the Hudson Valley.
And there were authors, 40 came to speak here. All of them had a good story to tell, but our very special guests included Jeannette Walls, Mika Brzezinski, Dennis Lehane, poet and children’s author Jane Yolen, and Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York.
Amor Towles, the author of Rules of Civility, was here, and we streamed Dan Brown live from Lincoln Center for his only public appearance to launch his new book Inferno.
Our year ended in June with the 2nd annual BB & BBQ fundraiser, where 280 people had a great time supporting the Library in spite of the torrential rain.
Now we’ve come full circle to this year’s summer reading program, with the theme, Try Something New. I think we will all find that once again, this tag line will be something we say throughout the year, as we begin it with a new executive director who will challenge us to bring innovation to what we do.
Library Annual Report 2013
July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2013
Looking Back at the Year
at New Canaan Library
Thank you, New Canaan.
New Canaan Library’s Mission
Enrich the town’s intellectual and cultural life
by providing free and convenient access to information,
fostering lifelong learning,
and encouraging the exchange of ideas.