Connecting Communities

2023 Annual Report

Thriving Ahead

Dear Kitsap Community, 

It is with great pleasure that I share our 2023 annual report, encapsulating a year of remarkable achievements and progress. This report is a testament to our commitment to fostering community and connectedness, which lies at the heart of our work. 

We concluded 2023 by embarking on an exciting journey, unveiling our five-year strategic direction. Guided by our new mission, “Inspiring curiosity and connection,” we’ve embraced the values of service, equity, and curiosity. These principles will shape our actions and initiatives into the future.  

Aligning with our new strategic goal to build collective impact, we forged vital partnerships in 2023, such as our collaboration to bring public library cards to all kids in the South Kitsap School District and active engagement in community celebrations. 

Our dedication to improving access, creating adaptable spaces, and aligning our technology to meet future needs has resulted in tangible benefits for our community. Noteworthy achievements include successfully launching a new website and mobile app, introducing a more convenient printing system, and critical updates to library facilities, including the renamed Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. branch. Furthermore, our commitment to learning, workforce readiness, and social connectedness is evident in the diverse range of classes and events offered throughout the year. 

As we celebrate the accomplishments of 2023, we are also mindful of the fiscal responsibility that comes with being a junior taxing district. In our assessment of the community's needs, we are developing a new levy spending plan to guarantee the ongoing delivery of services expected by the Kitsap community. 

Thank you for being an integral part of Kitsap Regional Library. Together, we are shaping a future where curiosity and connection thrive, and the Library remains a beacon of knowledge and community for generations to come. 

With gratitude,

Jason Driver

Library Director,
Kitsap Regional Library

COMMUNITY & CONNECTEDNESS

Bridging and building relationships and fostering engagement with the community are at the core of our work. Together with partners and local organizations, we facilitate programs, discussions, and events, enhancing access and prioritizing community. 

South Kitsap School District Partnership
Accessing the Library is easier for South Kitsap School District students! In November, South Kitsap joined library partners Bremerton and North Kitsap School districts with the launch of Student Library Accounts. Students in these districts can use their student ID as a library card at Kitsap Regional Library, gaining access to everything the Library offers. 

Community Learning Internship Returns
After a three-year hiatus due to the pandemic, the Community Learning Internship returned with three stellar interns. This project-based program prepares young adults for the workforce and higher education by encouraging youth to use personal goals to learn, explore, and get inspired. 

"The glimmer in someone's eyes when they figure out how to solve a challenge they have been facing, the thrill of seeing them achieve their goals, and the meaningful heart-to-heart conversations shared with all my mentees have been the greatest joy of my career."
Megan Burton, STEM and Learning Supervisor  

Juneteenth Freedom Festival  
On June 17, the Kitsap Juneteenth Freedom Festival at Evergreen Park was the celebratory place to be, with a march, live music, and more. The Library passed out special-edition Juneteenth library cards, bookmarks and stickers, and free books written by and featuring Black authors and communities.

Kitsap Pride Festival
For a second year, the Library collaborated with Kitsap Pride and the Boys & Girls Club to create interactive spaces for kids and teens at the Kitsap Pride Festival. At another booth, we shared limited-edition Pride library cards, bookmarks, stickers, and pronoun pins, adding inclusivity and community connection to the festival experience. 

Islander Festival
On August 19, we joined the Fifth Annual Kitsap County Islander Festival. Staff had a blast handing out buttons, library cards, and free books written by and featuring Pacific Islander authors and communities.  

OPEN TO ALL

Kitsap Regional Library is committed to ensuring that everyone sees themselves reflected in the Library with programs, collections, and resources that are inclusive and representative of the communities we serve.

More than 766,970 visitors across 9 locations

Over 2,970 home visits made by Mobile Services

Over 47,500 program attendees

More than 2,560 live and virtual programs

More than 2.5 million items borrowed

Over 733,260 ebook, audiobook, and CuriosityStream downloads

Early Learning
A love of learning starts little! Using stories, songs, rhymes, and full-body movements through regular, ongoing programs such as Storytime and Baby Band, we support the development of early literacy, social, and emotional skills.

Making & Interest-Based Learning
Recognizing a human drive for creativity, we provide a platform for exploring passions, discovering interests, and engaging in hands-on activities such as consistent programming like Dungeons & Dragons, Knit at Night, Crafternoons, Kids Art Club, and Take & Make 

Workforce Readiness & Development  
We support enhancing skills and knowledge through classes, programs, and partnerships, fostering local economic vitality, and equipping individuals with tools to excel in jobs and school. Resources and opportunities such as the Workforce Career Center appointments, Book-a-Librarian, resume workshops through the Community Learning Internship and with recruiting partners, LinkedIn Learning, Gale Test and Career Prep ensure that no matter what's ahead, learners of all ages have the support and tools they need to succeed.

Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (STEM)
STEM knowledge is fundamental for all ages. Programs such as computer classes with Kitsap Computing Seniors, LEGO Lounge, STEM Club, Little Explorers, and Builders' Club encourage learning experiences and inspire curiosity, nurturing our youngest critical thinkers, problem solvers, and leaders. Meanwhile, access to public computers, free Wi-Fi, and more than 60 online resources inspire and support digital literacy. In 2023, community members logged on in the library with 80,936 total computer sessions.

Social Connectedness
We actively bridge relationships and foster engagement within the community. With programs and resources such as Book Group, Open Mic Poetry, Gardeners' Tea Party, PSHS Mobile Health Clinic, and Senior Resource Fair, we work to enhance access and prioritize shared experiences. Regularly, libraries transform into meeting spaces for community members of all ages seeking time to craft, game, play, chat, and share.

Here, No Matter What
Our libraries play a critical role in their communities by providing shelter in extreme weather. After summer renovations led by the City of Bremerton, the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. branch joins the rest of our branches, serving our community in this way. No matter the time of year, we are dedicated spaces to be, learn, and gather.

 

 

CREATING FUTURE-READY, UNIVERSALLY ACCESSIBLE SPACES

Entrusted to us by our community, we are stewards of the space, collections, and ideas that make up Kitsap Regional Library. Thank you to the community and our building partners for your support as we make sustainable changes to meet the needs of current and future generations.

Maintenance at Bainbridge and Sylvan Way
Critical updates were made to the Bainbridge branch in coordination with the building owners, the Bainbridge Island Public Library, including elevator modernization, painting, minor repairs, carpet cleaning, and a complete resealing of the parking lot. And, at the Sylvan Way branch, a major roof replacement was completed to support the building's longevity. 

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Branch: Refreshed & Renamed
Working collaboratively with the building owner, the City of Bremerton, the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr (formerly Downtown Bremerton) branch received a much-needed heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system, a comprehensive upgrade of the network cabling, and new, more accessible signage.

Additionally, in December, the Kitsap Regional Library Board of Trustees approved the renaming of this branch to reflect and celebrate the 25th anniversary of the building's naming after civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 

"It's truly a name that reflects the values and aspirations of our community. By renaming this branch, we send a clear message that this space is for everyone, regardless of their background, regardless of their race, their creed, their sexual orientation ... it's all about a place where knowledge is accessible to all. Dr. King would have wanted that, and he envisioned that — a world where opportunity and justice were accessible to every individual. That's what a library is."
Jason Driver, Library Director 

Silverdale Allie's Kids Space
In December, an immersive and imaginative space was unveiled in the kids' area of the Silverdale branch. Allie's Kids Space includes a giant tree, complete with hand-drawn animals and words for kids to find within the grain of the wood. Created to honor the lead gift in the Silverdale Library Capital Campaign, made in memory of local author Alison Cragin Herzig, the space celebrates Allie's legacy and encourages young readers to explore and grow their own way.
 

IMPROVING ACCESS TO LIBRARY RESOURCES

In 2023, the Library made major strides in enhancing digital access. 

New Website

Launched in May, a new website, mobile app, and catalog focused on easier search and navigation, and a mobile-friendly design. 

Printing Updates

In November, we introduced a more convenient printing experience! Our new remote printing system enables quick printing from your phone or laptop. Additionally, cardholders can now enjoy up to $10 of free printing each week. 

LIBRARY COLLECTION

The Library offers a wide array of resources thoughtfully curated to cater to the diverse educational, informational, cultural, and recreational needs of the Kitsap community, delivering free, accurate, equitable, and confidential access to information. In 2023, 57,085 new items were added to the collection, and 12,889 purchase and interlibrary loan requests were processed.

Expanded YA Video Game Collection
A new young adult video game collection was introduced in April, with exciting games for kids aged 13 and up.  

New Kits
Sixteen new learning kits were introduced in October, designed to spark learning across diverse topics like astronomy, manga, drawing, and baby sign language.  

Top Checked-Out Items

Patrons explored boldly in their reading, watching, and listening in 2023.  

Audiobook
"Fourth Wing" by Rebecca Yarros

Movie
"Everything Everywhere All at Once"

Print & Ebook Nonfiction
"Spare" by Prince Harry

Print & Ebook Fiction
"Lessons in Chemistry" by Bonnie Garmus

Easy Fiction for Little Kids
"What Pet Should I Get?" by Dr. Suess 

Juvenile Fiction
"Hurricane Heroes in Texas" by Mary Pope Osborne

YA Fiction
"The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes" by Suzanne Collins 

SUMMER LEARNING

Let's Dig In

June through August, thousands of kids, teens, and adults decided to “Dig into Summer,” taking on the Library's annual reading and learning challenges. Summer Learning serves a critical role for kids and teens: preventing the decline in academic skills during the school break, known as the "summer slide." 

"I made the goal to learn Finnish to honor my roots and be able to communicate with my grandmother. I learned that simply trying is a good start, and I should not be afraid to make mistakes." - Sara, age 24, Port Orchard 

"I learned that sometimes you just have to say to yourself, don't give up! Learn to float before you swim." - Lyra, age 10, Silverdale 

"Learning Korean went well. My friend and I communicate all of the time! I learned so many new things! Next time, I'll challenge myself even more." - Leah, age 14, Sylvan Way 

"We've saved at least 50 gallons of water and used it to water deck flowers and make compost tea for the veggies. I learned a recipe to keep pests off the squashes that seems to be working. I attended the library's class on how to grow mushrooms and had them in a stir fry and spaghetti. Lots of fun!" - Marie, age 60, Little Boston 

"It was amazing! I learned that you can stay at the library for many hours, and no one kicks you out. Also, it is awesome!" - Carys, age 13, Bainbridge Island

It's incredible to watch our community come together through song and dance, reading challenges and the power of learning. Summer Learning challenges everyone to gain new skills and explore our world—no matter their age. Learning is a lifelong adventure!

10-hour finishers: 7,547

Summer program attendees: 15,771

100-hour finishers: 3,410

Partnered summer event attendees: 17,602

Summer Learning Challenge finishers: 1,568

Logged reading: over 382,370 hours

 

 

TO THE LIBRARY

Reading Is Out of This World

Transitioning from learning to read to reading for knowledge is a pivotal step for third graders, laying the groundwork for future academic success. Since 2007, Kitsap Regional Library has been a companion on this journey, welcoming third graders for an enriching field trip to their local branch. 

In 2023, 2,214 young learners embarked on this adventure, enjoying an immersive experience featuring a Storytime, goodie bags, and an introduction to the wonders of the public library. For many, it marked the exciting moment of obtaining their very first library card! 

To the Library isn't just a visit; it's an extra layer of support on the path to graduation. It fosters meaningful connections among library staff, teachers, students, and families, creating a nurturing environment for a lifelong love of learning.

 

 

SUPPORTING STAFF

With a team of nearly 200 dedicated individuals, from custodians to couriers, graphic designers to groundskeepers, office assistants, and librarians, the Library is a diverse group of talented professionals serving Kitsap County. They are the heart of our work, collectively inspiring curiosity and connection and fostering an environment where all people can grow, belong, and thrive.

WellCity Award 
Since 2017, Kitsap Regional Library has earned the Association of Washington Cities (AWC) distinguished WellCity designation. WellCity recipients are part of the AWC Employee Benefit Trust, Washington state’s largest local government health benefit pool for cities, towns, and other local government entities, such as the Library.
Employee participation in the Library’s wellness program is significant as recipients of the award receive a 2% discount on its insurance premiums. 

At Kitsap Regional Library, we prioritize the well-being of our staff, empowering them to embrace and sustain great health and wellness. We are honored to mark another year of this recognition, underscoring our unwavering commitment to fostering employee well-being. 

Summer BBQ
In September, Library team members, along with their families and friends, gathered to celebrate at the first annual staff BBQ, enjoying good food and even better company. 

All Staff Training
Devoting a day to staff development is a longstanding tradition at the Library. In October, staff came together to listen and learn from local leaders, fellow libraries, and each other. The day was interspersed with books, chair yoga, and therapy dogs and concluded with staff-nominated awards. 

Ongoing Learning
As Library staff, we have a deep desire to always keep learning. With a mission of inspiring curiosity and connection, there are regular opportunities to join focused and engaged staff committees around equity and wellness, as well as continuous training and professional development possibilities 

 

 

OUR FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY

As a junior taxing district, the Library relies on community support. In 2023, the Library received approximately $17 million in annual property tax revenue, accounting for over 94% of the operating budget. 

Since 2018, the Library's revenue growth since 2018 has averaged 2.4% annually. While demand for library service in Kitsap County remains strong, the Library's revenue growth is falling behind. Soon, funding will not be enough to maintain the Library's present level of services and collections. This decline was anticipated when the Library sought a levy increase in 2017, asking for funding to sustain a five-year spending plan. 

Looking ahead, the Library is currently assessing the needs of our community and the Library's facilities, collections, and services—five to 20 years into the future—to inform a new levy spending plan and ensure the Library continues to provide the services expected by our Kitsap community.

Annual Taxpayer Cost

$250k Residential Property

Represents average cost to property owners based on a $250k value property. The levy rate is per $1,000 assessed property value.

2023 Revenue Sources

2024 Operating Budget | $17,949,954

Annual Revenue

 

 

A FUTURE WHERE LIBRARIES & PEOPLE FLOURISH

For all of us, the COVID-19 pandemic was a defining moment. At Kitsap Regional Library, we emerged with a sureness of our own ability to lean into challenges and embrace change to move ourselves--and our communities--forward. We are excited to present our five-year strategic framework to “Thrive Ahead,” setting our course to become more accessible, collaborative, and sustainable.

We are extending our mission beyond our conventional library boundaries in recognition that we are both a place and presence, fostering digital literacy, civic engagement, economic development, and a sense of belonging for everyone. We invite you to join us on this extraordinary journey as we write the next chapter in the story of Kitsap Regional Library.

 

 

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