Although some used to predict the rise of the Internet would eventually lead to the demise of public libraries, Marianne Eichelberger hasn't seen business at Newton's library slow down yet.
Although the ways people use the library keep evolving and changing, the Newton Public Library director said there is always a regular stream of people walking through the library's doors to look at newspapers, search for jobs online, ask questions, and more.
"While the Internet does enrich our lives, in no way does this technology replicate or replace the sense of community brought by our library," Eichelberger said. "... The library itself is just as busy as ever, and libraries in general are serving as social centers in communities."
Eichelberger presented the library's 2012 annual report at this week's Harvey County Commission meeting, and she told commissioners the library continues to grow.
The library took in $693,976 in city tax levy in 2012, with about $139,020 expenditures in library materials. Community members made about 150,000 visits to the library last year, and the average attendance per week was almost 3,000. There were 8.4 annual checkouts at the library per resident.
The library has more than 17,000 card holders already, but Eichelberger said she always is surprised by how many new card holders sign up. There were 1,377 new patrons in 2012.
Special programs were popular at the library, and about 15,500 attended children's programs, the most popular being story times.
Eichelberger said demand continues to grow for multi-media materials such as DVDs, video games and Playaway self-contained audiobook listening devices, and eBooks also are growing in popularity.
Still, the library does face some challenges. Last year brought budget cuts, staff shortages, power outages and water coming into the building. The library continues to work on plans for a new facility, but Eichelberger said it will be up to the city commission to decide how to proceed.
Right now, Eichelberger said the library continues to work to increase public awareness of services and to find the best way to utilize resources in the current building. For more information, visit www.newtonplks.org.