Director: 2009 a 'watershed' year for Riverside Regional Library

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Relocating to a new building in Jackson was a contributing factor to an increase in total circulation and active cardholders at Riverside Regional Library's six branches in 2009, director Nancy Howland said Monday.

"This was a watershed year for our library in Jackson," Howland told the Cape Girardeau County commission during a presentation of the library system's annual report at its meeting Monday. "All of us who work there are still amazed every day we walk in."

Compared with 2008, total collections rose from 177,145 to 191,512, total circulation transactions increased from 591,263 to 642,439 and active cardholders jumped from 33,549 to 37,229. Riverside Regional Library's Jackson branch has the largest collection of books and audio visual materials among the system's six locations. In addition to Jackson, the library also has locations in the Southeast Missouri towns of Altenburg, Benton, Oran, Perryville and Scott City.

Riverside Regional Library worker Katelyn Jones cleans DVDs at the Jackson branch Tuesday, April 20, 2010. (Brian Blackwell)

The increases in 2009 came despite the Jackson branch closing from March 2 to April 6 and again for four-and-a-half days in May during a move to its new location at 1997 E. Jackson Blvd. The move from 204 S. Union St. doubled the library's space from 8,000 square feet of space to 17,000 square feet. New features included a study area, single entrance and larger volume of books and audio visual materials.

Additionally, the library system had about $82,000 in unspent budgeted money left over at the end of the year. The money was placed into unrestricted accounts of the three counties where the library has branches. The funds are used to meet unanticipated expenses that the system's libraries might encounter in 2010.

"That means we spend money very carefully and we watch every penny," Howland said. "The taxpayer money going to the library is very well spent. You can see your tax money in action at the library."

Another highlight in the report was the opening of a new building at its Benton branch. Construction began in late 2008 and was complete by May 2009. The library closed at its former location from May 12 before re-opening May 18 at 54 N. Winchester St., next to its old building.

Space increased from 2000 square feet to 3,024 feet. New features included a larger meeting room and more space for the Scott County Historical and Genealogy Society.

Other highlights and events in 2009 included the January ice storm closing all branches for two to three days, hosting a Federal Communications Commission informational session about the switch from the analog to digital television signal and all three branches receiving more than $34,687.95 total in state-allocated money for libraries in Missouri.

bblackwell@semissourian.com

243-8600

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