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Library’s contributions tangible, intangible

Friday, February 24, 2012

For all the tangible contributions a library provides its community there are many intangible contributions that are hard to put a dollar value on. Let us first look at the tangible contributions as they pertain to the Hollis Social Library.

Books, movies, magazines, and audio books are tangible contributions all public libraries make available to their communities patrons. Each of these offerings provides measurable value and savings to the community as a whole. For example, the Hollis Social Library circulated 56,225 books in 2011 to our library patrons, with a bookstore value of more than $1,000,000.

Offering downloadable e-books is a demonstration of public libraries keeping up with the times and providing reading material in alternative formats. This year alone, 2,145 audio books and e-books were downloaded by Hollis Social Library patrons, valued at more than $32,000, clearly a tangible benefit.

Public computer access is another very important service we provide to our users. The Hollis Social Library offers public computers for anyone to use, but as technology has evolved we also recognized the importance of offering wireless access to our patrons. Anyone who has a wireless device, such as a laptop, smartphone or tablet can come to the library and access the internet using our free Wi-Fi.

We also provide online genealogy databases, Ancestry Library Edition and Heritage Quest, offering each resident of Hollis the opportunity to trace their family tree. The tangible is the database, but the intangible is learning where your family came from and feeling a connection with your family history. This combined with our New Hampshire Historical book collection provides a great environment for genealogists or first time explorers to start their research. In 2011 alone, there were 4,690 searches performed on Ancestry and Heritage Quest by Hollis patrons. The value to these patrons who chose to use this free service is more than $75,500.

LearningExpress Library, a brand new database, provides tools to improve your job search, prepare for career certification, raise your college entrance test scores, or improve basic skills in school from K-12. The tangible is the tool and the intangible is the convenience of enriching your life, finding that elusive job, improving your SAT scores to enhance your college options, earning your GED or passing your nursing exam thanks to the extra practice tests available to you from the Hollis Social Library.

This year, a renewed focus was placed on collaborating with community organizations to expand the library’s role as a community center. Many of the 2011 programs reflected this commitment to community, cooperation and involvement. Program attendance was record-setting, with the highest levels of participation in recent years.

Recognizing local talent is another important role public libraries play in their community. Providing an art gallery for local artists to show their work and hold receptions is a tangible benefit. Promoting the cultural presence within the town of Hollis is intangible. Showcasing local authors enriches the readers experience, encourages writing within the community and educates the community on the topic being written about. We saw this during 2011 when the Hollis Social Library sponsored several authors covering topics like New Hampshire Civil War History, student life at the Culinary Institute of America and of course the five Hollis authors signing their books in the Hollis Social Library booth at Hollis Old Home Day.

As you stop and think about the tangible contributions made by the Hollis Social Library, don’t forget those intangible ones. Here are a few additional benefits taken from a list compiled by New Hampshire public librarians:

A place to meet friends or quietly read the newspaper. Safe refuge for students after school, whether to study, meet a tutor, work on school projects or attend a library program. Leveling the playing field, providing equal opportunity education for all. Instilling a sense of community, knowledge and pride. Commercial-free information sources.Assistance to help you navigate through the world of endless information. A comfortable place for everyone where people listen and care.

We are here for the Hollis community. Stop by the Hollis Social Library anytime, and if you don’t happen to have a card, we would love to sign you up.

Lucinda Mazza is director of the Hollis Social Library. She can be reached at 465-7721. Visit the library’s website at www.hollislibrary.org.

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