Submitted by William H. Teschek, Acting Library Director
The library welcomed a new Director to its staff this year. Fifteen-year Director Catherine Redden retired due to her battle with cancer, and sadly she passed away on September 26th. In January we hired Shirley Barron as Acting Library Director. She stayed until May and new Library Director, Amanda Reynolds Cooper, was hired in June. Amanda was previously employed as the Director in nearby Epping for the past four years. At the end of November she welcomed her first child, and will return to work in March, 2009.
During 2008 the library experienced another busy year, circulating 163,520 items, in over 125,000 visits by residents and visitors to the library. We loaned 2331 items out to other NH libraries and borrowed 1162 items for Hampton residents from libraries as far away as California. We registered 1186 new patrons.
This was a year for building maintenance. The woodwork on the outside of the library got a fresh coat of paint for the first time in 24 years, two old dying trees were removed, fresh landscaping was done, and air quality testing revealed mold that needed to be eliminated. The Friends of the Library donated money for the construction of a drink station at the front entrance. This replaces our bottled water service, which will save us over $1000 per year and makes cold, filtered water available to all. Our policy was changed to allow covered beverages in the library, so library users carrying around coffee cups are now a common sight. In the future we hope to add a coin-operated coffee machine at our new drink station to help raise money.
We hired three new substitutes this year who all have former ties to Hampton libraries. Stan Olson was our head of Reference Services from 2001-2004, Karen Weinhold worked the circulation desks from 1987-1992, and Maureen Cullen was librarian at Winnacunnet High School for fifteen years. They join our existing subs Jean Keefe, Sandy Kent, Janet Perkins, and Pam Schwotzer in staffing the library when regular staff members are on vacation or out sick.
Adult Services supervisor Darrell Eifert and library staff Barbara Chapman, Mary Twomey, Elli Cyr, Claudia Cyrus and Janet Anderson worked hard this year to provide circulation and readers advisory services to a growing number of patrons. We saw an increase in circulation of nearly 2500 items, including books, DVDs, audio books and magazines. Our new downloadable audio book service has also been very popular, providing over 700 downloads to library patrons from the comfort of their own homes. Thousands of people used our public Internet stations for email, word processing, research, job hunting, games, chat, and many other pursuits. Genealogists from all over the country visited our New Hampshire room to trace their Hampton roots. Our Dearborn Room (which in 2009 will likely be renamed "The Redden Room" in honor of our departed director and friend Catherine Redden) holds thousands of large print titles that give the gift of reading to those with failing eyesight. We would especially like to thank volunteer Jane McDermott, who coordinates delivery of hundreds of these books to the residents of Dearborn House. She and nearly 20 other volunteers who shelve books, enter local history into our website databases, and mend hundreds of items each year have provided over 2500 hours of service to our library. It would be impossible to provide the level of service we do without their cheerful and competent assistance.
Children's Services continued its many established programs, such as weekly story times and bi-monthly book groups, while furthering its communication with local schools. In late May and early June, Children's Services Coordinator Paulina Shadowens and Teen Librarian Kirsten Corbett were invited to share with students our upcoming Australia-themed summer reading program, "G'Day for Reading." We enjoyed record numbers of participants in both the literary part of the program and in the events that were held for youngsters, which included musician Steve Blunt, two puppeteers, a magician, the Boston Museum of Science traveling show, and the ever-popular Wildlife Encounters. Kirsten's groups of middle and high school age students participated in a series of fun experiences, including a chocolate tasting and creating Mehndi designs. In September we were also fortunate to have prize-winning children's book author Cynthia Lord speak in the Lane Room. The showing of family-oriented movies recently released on DVD has found a loyal audience, so we plan to continue with this during vacation times, as well as on school half-days. Librarian Joanne Mulready charmed a capacity crowd with her reading of The Polar Express during our annual Polar Express Party.
Reference Services, led by Marija Sanderling and assisted by Alice Alford, continues to provide interlibrary loan service at a 99% fill rate. Requests rose 12% over last year, keeping us very busy. We completed an inventory of the collections this year, and the catalog now reflects an accurate record of our holdings. During the month of June we received a sizable personal library from the estate of John W. Sponsler of Hampton. Many of his books were very technical in nature and therefore not appropriate for our collection. We did, however, list a large portion of them for sale on Amazon.com and have made over $3,000 so far from his estate. The newly-formed Hampton Energy Commission made a donation of books and pamphlets to our collection, helping to raise awareness of their goals in the community.
Once again Technical Services supervisor Bill Teschek has spent much of the year on administrative duties as either Acting Director or in helping to train our new Directors. Cataloger and assistant technical services librarian Isabel Danforth retired after three years of service, but continues on as a library substitute. She was replaced in November by Stacy Mazur who has been kept very busy doing the work of cataloging and processing our growing collections of materials. Our free wireless Internet access throughout the building, and even in the parking lot, has become more and more popular. iPods are now showing up frequently on our lists of connected machines. After the December ice storm, during which the library itself lost power for nearly three days, wireless usage spiked for a week as residents without power came in to surf the net, check their email, and escape their dark, frozen homes for a few hours.
The elected Trustees of the Library are Bridgit Valgenti (Chair), Bob Frese (Vice-Chair), Mary Lou Heran (Treasurer), Linda Sadlock (Secretary), Sara Casassa, and alternates Sue Hughes, Kris Sawyer and Deb Perry. The Trustees meet monthly on the 3rd Thursday of each month at 6 o=clock p.m. in the New Hampshire Room or Dearborn Room of the library. The Board has been busy working on library policy, building issues, landscaping, budget and personnel issues all year, the most important of which was the hiring of a new Library Director. We are thankful for the many donations made by individuals and groups this year to help fund the purchase of new materials for the library, as well as building improvements. In 2009 the Trustees and staff will be working to come up with a plan for some renovations to the existing building.
The Friends of the Library continue to be a very active group. Sue Hughes took over the job of President from Gloria Goudreau, and Deb Perry puts together an excellent newsletter that is available on the library's website. They have raised thousands of dollars for the library through book sales, bake sales, raffles and other fundraisers. Some of the money has gone to purchase audiobooks, furniture for the children's room, the new drink station by the front entrance and several museum memberships that library users can borrow to visit area museums for free or at reduced prices. In November they celebrated the 50th anniversary of the formation of the original Friends group with a very successful grand gala at the library that they hope to repeat in 2009.
As our national and local economies head further into troubled waters many of us are seeking ways to economize and make due with less. One of the best ways to do this is to make more use of your free local library. Get into the habit of borrowing rather than purchasing, and our thousands of books, magazines, videos, audiobooks and children's materials can save you a lot of money. You can also use our resources to learn how to do for yourself and save on the cost of home repairs, travel planning, health care, food preparation and in many other areas of your life. There is a reason why, historically and today, when the economy goes down, library usage goes up. Come pay us a visit and find out for yourself.
William H. Teschek,
Acting Library Director