So, we've filled up on turkey and football, spent time with friends and family and had a few quiet moments to think about the things we're thankful for. Now it's back to work, and I'm reminded how lucky I am to be working for a library.
The list of things I'm thankful for would fill the stacks, so let me just name a few:
I'm grateful that I come to work every day with such wonderful people. Library employees are a special breed. They're here because they believe in the promise of libraries -- equal access to information and opportunity for all. They step up day after day and go the extra mile minute by minute to help our patrons find what they need. I am blessed to know and work with them.
I'm grateful for our Board of Trustees. They help us navigate the choppy waters of declining revenues and increased service demands, and they do it gracefully and well. They give unstintingly of their time and talents, and we are lucky to have them.
I'm grateful that the work I do has meaning. Every day, I hear stories of how we actually change people's lives. Patrons use us to give their children the best possible start in life, to help them succeed in school and learn critical job and life skills; they use us to stay abreast of evolving technologies, find employment, build businesses, and participate in public life; and in later life, they use us to stay connected to the world of people and ideas. On any given day, I can walk into the Library and see these transformations taking place, and I am unbelievably grateful for that.
I'm grateful to the Jefferson County Library Foundation and Friends. Their sole mission is to raise money to support Library programs and services, and each year they contribute more than $150,000 to JCPL. That money helps us to deliver early literacy programs and services, invest in technology, and stay afloat in these tough economic times.
I'm grateful for the more than 2,400 library volunteers who help us achieve our mission. They help us in the libraries; they help us with public relations and advocacy; they staff the Foundation's fund raising events and book sales (not a trivial task, by any means), and more. This year, they've contributed nearly 15,000 hours of service to JCPL, and we still have month to go!
Finally, I'm grateful for those of you who subscribe to my blog; who take such an interest in the Library; and who offer your time and support to JCPL.
Meister Eckhart once said, "If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, 'thank you,' that would suffice." So, to all of you, happy thanksgiving, and a prayerful "thanks" for everything you do for JCPL.
Countdown to Midnight
It's Colorado Gives Day today.
In one 24-hour period, Colorado residents are asked to go online and donate something to their favorite charity. Last year they raised a total of $15 million for hundreds of non-profits across the state -- a heartening testament to the generosity and compassion of our friends and neighbors. This year, they hope to raise at least $17 million.
Jefferson County Library Foundation is one of the non-profits participating today. They're collecting donations to support early literacy programs at Jefferson County Public Library. Won't you consider making a donation today?
It doesn't cost much to make a big difference. At Colorado Gives Day, they'll accept online donations starting at $10.
Imagine if every library cardholder pledged $10! We'd raise more than $3.25 million in a single day!
Take a minute to show your support of early literacy and JCPL. Donate today!
Mountain Library Advocates Take Note
The Conifer Recreation Coalition is seeking resident input on recreational opportunities in the Conifer area, and we wouldn't want them to forget the Library!
If you'd like to weigh in on the kinds of facilities and activities you'd like to see, take the survey today. It closes on Dec. 15, so don't delay.
Important Update on the Library's Budget
At its December meeting, the Library Board of Trustees adopted our 2014 budget. I'm pleased to report that we'll be able to maintain current service levels and make modest investments in staff and technology, while keeping expenses well in line with revenues in 2014.
This is a major accomplishment. Since the economy went south in 2008, we've had to use money from savings to help us balance our budget -- in each of the past three years. We'll enjoy a bit of a reprieve in 2014, primarily due to the fact that we paid off our debt for the Belmar Library in 2013. This will allow us to allocate $716,000 of previous debt expense to other service areas next year.
I wish I could say our financial challenges are behind us; however, our forecasts suggest otherwise.
As we consider these future challenges, the Library Board of Trustees has undertaken an initiative to evaluate options for achieving a sustainable business model, including investigating ways to increase library revenues. This is one of the most important initiatives we'll be undertaking in 2014, so stay tuned.
We'll be providing updates as we go along.
A Wonderful Christmas Present
Amidst the litter of wrapping paper and ribbon last week, I found a wonderful Christmas present. I opened my email to find this photo:
It's a picture of Bookmobile Patron Ruth Gartrell, who happened to be our 10,000th bookmobile visitor this year. Rich Allen, our bookmobile supervisor, surprised Ruth with balloons and flowers to celebrate this milestone. Needless to say, it was a happy day for all involved.
Even more heart-warming are the trends we're seeing in bookmobile use. The number of bookmobile visitors has increased every year for the past eight, despite the fact that we downsized that business unit in late 2010. This is the first time we've reached the 10,000-visitor milestone in a single year.
It's a testament to Rich (and all of the other library employees) who work within significant budgetary constraints, and yet provide exceptional library services year after year.
That, my friends, is the best Christmas present ever, and a wonderful way to start off the new year!