Jervis director lauds staff as library bustled during 2022
ROME — Jervis Public Library Executive Director Lisa M. Matte commended her staff for a successful 2022 in her annual library report.
Last year marked a full calendar year of unrestricted library service after two years of significant limits to what the staff does best: helping people in person.
“It is impossible to do the staff justice and cover everything they made happen in 2022 in a short report,” said Matte. “They go from one task to another and sometimes forget to write down the success before moving on to the next task. This is especially true this year as we compare 2021 to 2022.”
Staff brought back favorite in-person programs such as book discussions, author visits, story-times, the beloved Summer Reading program, and Jervis House tours. They also kept the programs that came to be thanks to the ingenuity of 2020 and 2021: grab-and-go craft kits, special virtual programs, and virtual teen programming on a Discord server.
Participation in outreach events took off in 2022. People were eager to get back to seeing the staff at off-site events including a new one at the local Veterans Administration hospital and new programming partnerships with the NAACP and Salvation Army. In all, more than 5,000 new books were distributed, primarily to children, at events all over the city and Rome City School District.
While it would seem that the library’s focus was on public services and collections, with two remarkable interns and a tireless Board committee, more than 60 policies were reviewed, revised, or drafted, and staff attended hundreds of hours of continuing education on a wide variety of topics.
“These are priorities because we are committed to a strong foundation to support excellence in service,” Matte said.
Additions in 2022 were the Mid-York Library System Road Trip, loaning passes to Fort Rickey Game Farm and Kennedy Arena; blood pressure cuffs to borrow through a partnership with the American Heart Association, MVHS, and NAACP; a twice-monthly knit and crochet group; fitness classes sponsored by the YMCA; a series of wellness sessions sponsored by Rome Health; and a Comfort Cabinet that provided more than 4,000 hygiene, nutrition, and education-related items to those who needed them.
The physical library and its physical materials remain essential. Jervis, 613 N. Washington St., had more than 79,000 visits last year, double that in 2021. Continuing a trend, the busiest day of 2022 was the day of the library’s annual book sale in August.
The most popular books borrowed from Jervis in 2022 were “The Maid by Prose” (127) and “The Paris Apartment” by Foley (72). The Dog Man series dominated the list of most popular books for Jervis’ younger visitors. For comparison, the most popular digital title borrowed by Jervis patrons was, “The Last Thing He Told Me,” by Laura Dave (48) and the most popular digital audiobook at Jervis was “Apples Never Fall,” by Moriarty (33).
Demand continues for digital books, audiobooks, and magazines.
“As a result of efforts in 2022, the average wait time for digital items is around 26 days, a 50% reduction in wait time since 2021,” Matte said.
Digital circulation made up 15% of total borrowing at Jervis in 2022; 884 unique Jervis users, 218 of whom were new to the service, borrowed 2,200 digital items each month.
“The Jervis staff takes pride in providing unexpected services,” Matte added.
The library sold 168 tickets to Water Safari, 46 EZ Passes, and 557 tickets to the high school musical in 2022, along with tickets to fundraisers and events for local organizations, reinforcing the commitment to the community. Patrons also enjoyed borrowing snowshoes, WiFi hotspots, metal detectors, board games, and puzzles.
Jervis maintains its position as the trusted location for computer, fax, copying, printing, and internet access. Computer sessions doubled to more than 11,000 in 2022, wireless users numbered approximately 6,600, a 50% increase. There were 5,300 wireless print jobs sent from patrons’ devices and 11,000 print jobs sent from library computers.
How did patrons find out about library services and programs? In addition to the printed and Google calendars and traditional press releases, Jervis had 17,000 interactions on Facebook, maintained 713 followers on Instagram, and had 44,699 visits to the website.
“Thanks in part to the wildly popular Mid York Road Trip, Jervis was also featured on WKTV, in the Daily Sentinel, and on local radio stations and hosted a reception for gold cardholders to celebrate the journey,” said Matte. “Nearly 4,000 people found out about library services and programs at one of 30 off-site outreach events, including every elementary school in the district.”
People who visited the library were treated to a wide array of programs. They met New York Times bestselling author Ellen Marie Wiseman and numerous local authors; they learned to draw; exhibited their Tiny Art creations; played video games; took ukulele lessons; joined a ukulele circle; recycled books and computer equipment and shredded confidential documents; had their blood pressure checked; and picked up more than 2,500 COVID tests, more than 100 Teen Swag boxes, and more than 2,500 Take-and-Make craft kits for all ages. Held on-site, off-site, and virtually, nearly 1,100 library programs were attended by about 11,000 people.
How does Jervis do it?
“It’s the staff,” Matte said. “Our 30 staff members, only 10 of whom are full time, were as excited to get back to a full year of somewhat normal service as the public was. We supplemented the staff with 356 teen volunteer hours and 136 adult volunteer hours. In addition, we benefited from nearly 700 hours of service from internship and volunteer programs from Hamilton College, Oneida County, Mohawk Valley Community College, and the Senior Aide Program.”
She said, “Without the staff, none of the services or programs would have been possible. That our dwindling staff creates the relationships and results they do is nothing short of a superpower. When they report to work, they wear their capes and save the day.”
Matte said the library is also grateful for the support of its co-workers; the Board of Trustees; the city, county, and local school district taxpayers; and the numerous individuals, businesses, and foundations who have provided strong support to the library. It allows the library to plan for the future.
“We remain committed to the patrons who trust the library staff to handle the most delicate of situations and their confidential information,” Matte said. “We are proud to carry out a time-honored tradition of valuing patrons’ confidentiality and access to resources.”
Christy Brazie, along with her college-age children Jerremy and McKenna, were visiting Jervis Library for a variety of different services Thursday. Each of them has their “favorite things” at the library.
“I like to get what’s new, so I appreciate being able to reserve books online and then I can just come to the library and they’re all ready to pick up,” said Christy.
McKenna said the family has also been known to borrow from the library’s selection of board games and have also enjoyed taking out Empire Passes for various tourist locations around the area.
“I was able to take out a ukulele and started teaching myself how to play,” McKenna added.
Besides being able to use the computers on loan, Jerremy said he “really likes the Manga selection.”
Violet Estrella said she enjoys bringing her 5-year-old daughter to the library for special reading times and activities in the Children’s Room, as well as her own respite time.
“It was a definite improvement when the library changed the location for where the computers can be used, and there’s lots of places to go for quiet time. It’s a good place to meditate,” Estrella said. “There’s an area for magazines (the Dillon Room), and that’s where I’ll be taking a Tai Chi class. There’s just a lot going on here.”
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