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Collierville Library exceeds national average adapting to 21st Century trends

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The Collierville Library has adopted better than most to the digital age, according to the Institute of Museum and Library Sciences (IMLS).

Like businesses and retailers, public libraries must have a strong online presence, and the Collierville Library (also known as the Lucius E. and Elsie C. Burch Jr. Library) has made considerable efforts to offer more resources and materials online. The recently released IIMLS survey from FY2013 examines how Americans interact with public libraries’ materials, programs and services.

In Collierville, the library’s online access to digital books, audio and video jumped by 41 percent over 10 years (FY 2003-FY 2013), compared to the national average of 25 percent.

In 2015, the Collierville Library exceeded those numbers further with the addition of Tennessee R.E.A.D.S. (Regional eBook and Audiobook Download System), offering more than 74,000 downloadable audiobooks and eBooks and streaming video. Participation in the program increased the Collierville Library’s digital collection by 3,000 percent.

Libraries’ public programs are an important source of education from childhood development to ongoing learning for adults who need information regarding finances, employment, healthcare and wellness. With an increase of 49 percent over seven years (FY 2006-FY 2013) the Collierville Library again exceeded the national average of 28 percent.

Collierville Library Director Deanna Britton said, “These increases in key indicators are a direct reflection of the Town of Collierville’s commitment and investment in literacy and education. Also, our community is fortunate to have a dedicated and creative library staff who have both a passion for service and a desire to ‘raise the bar’ in providing relevant and rewarding experiences.”

The Collierville Library offered over 500 special programs and activities in 2015, reaching a wide array of ages and interests with 14,312 attendees. Over the summer alone, there were 93 adult and children’s programs as part of Summer Reading, which hosted 4,467 patrons and logged 21,432 hours of reading.

“I think these statistics demonstrate that the Town’s investments in the Collierville Burch Library are truly bearing fruit,” said Assistant Town Administrator Josh Suddath. “We appreciate the thoughtful and innovative work our library employees do that make it such a valued community asset for residents of all ages.”

Public access computers and the Internet are a necessary resource in public libraries, but the survey revealed a significant drop in usage since 2010. At the Collierville Library, usage decreased by 80 percent over only three years (FY 2010-FY 2013). But public wireless access through laptops, smart phones and tablets is not measured and is presumably the cause of the drastic change. The Collierville Library has free wireless access and serves a demographic of patrons who typically have and use their own mobile devices.

The IMLS, based in of Washington D.C., is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries. The IMLS survey from FY2013 received a 97 percent response rate that spanned 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

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