One of the hallmarks of those who work at libraries is a more than healthy amount of professional level naval gazing. That may sound a bit odd, but what I mean to say is, in our journals, conversations, podcasts, conferences, and in a variety of other forums…we spend a lot of time talking and thinking about the future of libraries.  Will libraries still be around 50 years from now? If they are around, will they still look like they do today? Will my job exist? There are more competitors for libraries every day, and while we in the library field do not view this competition as a zero sum game, we also worry and fret a bit about how things will turn out.

You see, while we are concerned about our livelihoods, we are more concerned about our communities. You would not do this work if you did not believe in the mission of a library: to educate, to protect and disseminate information so that those who seek it will always have access, to fight for equality in its many forms, to encourage literacy and self-betterment, and to foster community. Libraries are not just storage places for books, this has never really been the case, and it is even less the case as we move further into the future. Whatever libraries look like in the future, I hope that they still hold these core values as sacrosanct.

As I do my own naval gazing this January, and reflect on the future of Kitsap Regional Library, I find myself looking at our 2016 statistics. Numbers go up and down indicating trends, patron behavior, and the effects of decisions we’ve made. Below, I’ve pulled out some of those numbers that I think are indicative of how your KRL libraries are being used today. Dare I say that it relieves my naval gazing anxiety a bit to see how many people use the library each year?  I hope these figures help prove my point - that the scope of our organization exceeds that of a book warehouse...that while libraries are changing every year, their relevance is more clear now than ever. 

Statistic Count Description
Items checked out   2,115,251 The number of physical items that people borrowed from the library during the year
Digital downloads & renewals 868,380 The number of digital downloads and renewals of materials via the KRL website (Overdrive, Freegal, Zinio, etc.) 
Door Count 1,070,941 How many people entered a KRL location over the course of a year (not counting digital accesses). 
Computer Sessions 170,088 How many people used a public access computer at one of our library locations
Proctored exams 257 Schools, both local and from around the world, need a local place for students to take their tests. Librarians communicate with instructors, check ID, ensure proper testing procedure, and monitor these exams.
Room Reservations 1,222 The library allows local nonprofit groups to use its meeting space for meetings that are open to the public.
Meals Served 2,658 During the summer months, the library partners with local school districts and with other organizations to ensure that children and teens can eat when school is not in session.
Items added to KRL collection 72,511 Number of items added to the circulating collection
People attending children's programs 35,520 Number of people that attended children’s programs at a library location, including: storytimes, summer events, STEM programs, and a wide variety of other offerings.
People attending teen programs 3,817 Number of people that attended teen programs at a library location, including: Anime Club, teen advisory boards,lock-Ins, art and STEM labs, and reading/writing groups. 
People attending adult programs 12,558 Number of people that attended adult programs at a library location, including: Walking Club, book groups, Career Center, DIY & Crafts, and writing groups. 
People attending programs open to all ages  5,047 Number of people that attended all age programs at a library location, including: community events, special events, and public presentations. 
Volunteer hours donated 7,050 Number of volunteer hours donated - KRL provides opportunities for people to give back to their community, gain skills, and to create contacts for future job searches. These volunteer hours also benefit the library, and are valued at $28.99 per hour, or $204,371 total for 2016,
STEM interns hired 15 KRL hires local people just starting out in their professional careers for temporary, paid, 100 – hour, STEM focused library internships (click here for an example job posting
Outreach attendance 53,680 KRL library staff visit schools, go to community events sponsored by other organizations, and give talks at different venues on a variety of subjects. This statistic reflects the  number of people in attendance at those outreach events. "Outreach" can be defined as an instance where the library reaches out to its community and brings services to them at a location other than the library. 
Outreach patron visits 2,411 Some members of our community are homebound due to age, illness, or other circumstances. KRL staff visits these patrons in their homes and bring library materials to them so that they can fully take advantage of KRL collections and services. 
Online reference interactions 1,668 Number of sessions where a library staff member helped answer a reference question that was submitted online. Click here to ask us a question. 

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