St. Louis County Library experienced another banner year in 2012. The system saw unprecedented growth in circulation and program attendance, producing the highest statistics the system has ever seen. In addition, the library’s tax initiative, Prop L, passed by 58% in November. SLCL continues to be Missouri’s busiest library, positively impacting lives and improving the St. Louis region. Below are a few milestones from 2012, as well as next steps for the system.
2012 Year in review:
- SLCL circulated nearly 14.4 million items, more than the combined circulation of all other area libraries.
- Over 6.3 million visitors came to the library last year, more than all three local pro-sports teams and almost double the record-breaking attendance at the St. Louis Zoo.
- More than 80 bestselling authors visited SLCL in 2012, with attendance at these events exceeding 14,000.
- Last year saw the largest summer reading program in the history of SLCL with more than 88,000 kids, teens and adults participating.
- In January, SLCL opened an expanded Eureka Hills Branch, nearly double the size of the previous location.
The passage of Prop L will usher in a new era of growth at SLCL. The modest tax increase will allow SLCL to move forward with much needed improvements to aging buildings, including the construction of new branches, as outlined in the Facilities Master Plan. The library is in the process of hiring a real estate broker to oversee the implementation of the Plan. Public input will be sought along the way, ensuring the community has a voice in the process. The priority at this time is to replace the Tesson Ferry Branch, which opened in 1958 and where mechanical systems are failing and the property features multiple sinkholes. Construction is not expected to begin until 2014.
Immediate benefits following the passage of Prop L included the implementation of year-round Sunday hours at four branches (Daniel Boone, Florissant Valley Headquarters and Tesson Ferry). The library is also considering adding Sunday hours to other locations in 2014. Additionally, hours at the system’s two smallest branches, Eureka Hills and Meramec Valley branches, were expanded to match the rest of the system. Finally, the Summer Reading Club budget was increased, allowing the clubs to start in May instead of June, with better prizes and programs for all age groups.
At a time when libraries throughout the U.S. are cutting hours, closing branches, and curtailing their expectations, SLCL is planning its next incarnation. SLCL continues to evolve with the needs of the public–providing more electronic resources such as eMedia, which saw a 127% increase in usage last year, offering programs and assistance to job seekers, and partnering with community organizations to bring new and exciting initiatives to the St. Louis area such as the Gateway Greening community garden at the Prairie Commons Branch, and the newly established Nurse Family Partnership project, which will provide new mothers with library materials.