Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Cover to Cover

The Memphis Public Library & Information Center's 2006-2007 Annual Report just landed on my desk and, boy, it is a page turner!

Okay, not really, mostly it just looks to be a round-up of stories from the library system's newsletters, but I did scan it thoroughly. (And, yes, it is called "The Mall for your Mind.")

The report touts the summer reading program, the adult enrichment series, and the library's participation in a Bill & Melinda Gates foundation funded study called Making Cities Stronger: Public Libraries' Contributions to Local Economic Development.

It also includes the library's balance sheet for 2007: $15 million in funding from the city, $700,000 from the county, $950,000 from Bartlett and Millington combined, and $74,000 from the feds.

Fines and fees make up just a little more than $1 million in revenue, or about 6 percent of the library's overall income.

The foundation for the library comes up with just over another million in donations, grants, and bookstore/cafe revenue.

On the expense side, personnel accounts for $13.7 million, or more than 82 percent, of costs.

It looks like they spend $842,000 on materials, but it doesn't break that down to books, magazines, or computers.

Most interesting was probably the branch updates. For instance, there was a small note about staff from the Levi Branch library visiting local schools and daycares to encourage children to read.

Downtown's Cossitt branch was mentioned for its unique Wednesday afternoon lunch series. Poplar-White Station was noted for its Second Thursday Lecture Series.

Gaston Park has a partnership with Opera Memphis — the opera comes to the branch once a month between September and May for storytelling, dance, theater, and opera (natch) activities and the branch averages about 70 children for each activity.

You might remember that Levi, Gaston Park, Cossit, and Poplar-White Station was four of the five libraries slated for closure by Mayor Willie Herenton before the City Council took those cuts off the table. (Highland was the other library that was in danger of being closed.)

If you're interested in reading up on the subject, here are two columns I did about the proposed closures.

And here is a story I did about the library system at the beginning of the year after the retirement of longtime library head Judith Drescher.

Here is a column I wrote after Herenton appointed his new deputy director of the library.

The report also says that LINC/2-1-1 staff answered more than 15,000 calls from July 2006 to June 2007, an increase of 415 percent from the previous year. I assume that part of the increase stems from the public awareness campaign to get citizens to call 2-1-1 with their everyday questions instead of 9-1-1.

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