Annual Report

Newton Public Library 2015-2016 Annual Report

Thank you for allowing me to present this annual report on behalf of the Newton Public Library Board of Trustees. I apologize for reporting so late into the next fiscal year. However, this report will be presented one week before National Library Week, where all libraries across America are celebrated. I only see it as fitting that we celebrate and recognize our own fantastic library before others across America.

The library building received a lot of maintenance to the grounds and exterior this past year.  The roof was cleaned for the first time in 25 years in June. The cleaning occurred just in time for Newton Fest and was financed through a joint partnership between Friends of the Library and the Library Foundation. At the same time, a few areas of the roof over the west entrance that had experienced leaking over the year were patched. The library grounds were refreshed with new benches by Sir Rustolot, the addition of a Pollinator Garden, and four trees planted on the north side. Ash trees were removed from the library grounds along with a few dying trees in the right-of-ways around the building. 

As the Library approached its 25th anniversary in its current location it was necessary to study its use of space inside the building. George Lawson was consulted and hired by the Friends of the Library to conduct a Space Utilization Study. His floor plan, which follows this report, found the need for a reorganization and construction of the library’s service desks, moving of book stacks, a more open layout, and designated teen and media centers within the library. This floor plan will shape library plans in the years going forward.

As for the numbers you have in front of you, they are comparable with the previous year’s figures. Some figures to note are those of circulation totals and foot traffic/annual door count of the library. Circulation of library materials, both physical and downloadable, continue to increase with 5,270 more checkouts in 2016. Foot traffic at the library has seen a drastic increase with 76,000 visitors in 2014, 96,805 in 2015, and 105,110 visitors in 2016.  

Using end of the year figures (June 30, 2016) after adding and withdrawing materials, the library has 107,960 items to circulate to readers. This includes downloadable videos, audio and e-books that have been added to our catalog of circulating material and are available through BRIDGES.  It does not include the downloadable music available through the library’s subscription to Freegal.

The library continues to be a WiFi hotspot, with residents increasingly bringing in their laptops, tablets, phones, and other various devices to the library.  We have seen our use of public internet stations begin to shrink while our strain on WiFi explode. Because of this growth, the Library underwent an Internet Infrastructure Upgrade in June 2016. Thanks to a $2,500 grant awarded by the Jasper Community Foundation Grant and previous anonymous donations, the library’s Cat5 cabling was upgraded to Cat6 cabling and 17 workstations were taken off the wireless network. The Cat6 cabling led to a more stable network, tripling the speed of Internet uploads, and boosting download speeds to 8 times faster than before.  The cabling upgrade allowed the library to continue to be the city’s technology center, offering fast and free Internet access, helping readers with their technology and device questions, and offering a free place for them to study, collaborate, and learn.

Many new library services were added throughout the year, including 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten, the Automatically Yours Program, Email Newsletters, the Buy It Now Program, and an updated Renewal Policy. The 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten Program promotes reading to newborns, infants, and toddlers, and encourages parent and child bonding through reading. The Automatically Yours Program allows readers to pick authors they would automatically like holds placed on when new items are published. This program along with the Email Newsletters, which allows readers to receive email notifications on upcoming programs, book releases, and special events, put readers more in control of what they want from the library. The Buy It Now program allows readers to purchase a book through Amazon that they found through searching our catalog. A small amount from these Amazon sales comes back to the library to fund further upgrades to our catalog. And lastly, our Renewal Policy was updated to allow readers to renew everything in the library as long as the item does not have holds and has not been renewed previously. This has led to happier readers and the checking out of more items by those readers, especially DVDs.

Programming is an essential component of the educational mission for all ages at the library.  Continuing partnerships with the Goodwill Career Connection Center, The Arts Connection, Centre for Arts and Artists, South Skunk Blues Society, Newton Alumni Association, UI Extension & Outreach,  Iowa Public Television, Neal Smith Wildlife Refuge, Jasper County Farm Bureau, Iowa Genealogical Society, Newton Community Schools, and the Jasper County Conservation Center have enabled us to enhance learning opportunities through library programs, beyond library walls, and with the expertise available within the community.

Ongoing monthly programs for adults including book clubs and Adult coloring continue to be popular. Also scattered throughout the year were author visits, musical programs (including concerts on the library lawn), speaking programs about various historic topics, and craft learning sessions.  While programs bring many readers to the Library we ensure that we provide services to those unable to travel with our digital services and Homebound Reader Program.

Weekly children’s story times for preschoolers and toddlers continue grow in popularity, and monthly visits to preschool, Head Start, and daycares take the library to children outside of the building. Story times were expanded this year to include visits to Willowbrook Day Center, incorporating both toddlers and seniors. Additions to the Children’s Library include an AWE Literacy station and 3 iPads that have educational and interactive games for children. The new tech gadgets are exciting but our puzzle table, puppet theater, and stuffed animals continue to entertain children as well.

The Friends of the Library is a mainstay organization of the library.  Last year the Friends provided funds for cleaning the Library roof, Space Utilization Study with George Lawson, Legos, benches for our browsing area, new book cases, speakers for programs, promotional materials, books and bags for newborns, summer reading events, and transportation for 1st graders to tour the library, all totaling $12,983. 

The Newton Public Library Foundation continues to play a vital role in funding extraordinary library requests that reach beyond budget allowance. In 2015-2016 the Foundation provided $21,570 of funding for library programs and reading promotion, a study booth for our teen area, and our new Enterprise library catalog which will be unveiled later this Spring.

Numerous individuals, businesses, and organizations in the community provided time, monetary assistance, or merchandise donations in support of library projects and programs. On behalf of the Library Board and staff, I wholeheartedly thank all of those who have supported the library this past year and continue to support us. Because of your generosity, all library programs are free and open to the public. 

I’d like to thank the Library Board of Trustees for their hard work, dedication, and the time that they have devoted to governing the library and providing strong support for the library staff and community.  Along with the Library Board, I also thank you, Mayor Hansen, Council members, and Newton residents, for the continued trust and support you have given to the Library.

The statistics and the text of this presentation can be found on the library’s website - Thank you for your time, your attention, and your continued support of the Newton Public Library’s mission for Newton and Jasper County.


Nicole Lindstrom

Library Director