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Woodbury library sees increased wireless use

Washington County Library Manager Chad Lubbers presents the R.H. Stafford Library 2013 report last week.

The R.H. Stafford Library annual report confirmed what managers have been suspecting for a while now: more visitors are tuning into technology and ditching traditional devices.

More than 34,000 hours accounted for wireless use at the library last year, according to manager Chad Lubbers’ annual report, compared to 28,000 desktop usage.

“This is the first time we’ve seen concrete numbers to actually back what we’ve suspected,” he said, adding, “The future is wireless and we’re seeing a lot of that happen in the library.”

Lubbers presented the report to Woodbury City Council last week, where he announced new initiatives and urged teens to volunteer at the library this summer.

Woodbury branch visitors checked out more than 9,000 e-book titles last year, with the three most popular being “The Litigators,” “Gone Girl” and “50 Shades of Grey.”

Additionally, the library checked out more than 22,000 electronic magazines, which accounts for 30 percent of all magazine use, he said.

The library averages 73 daily users on its wireless network, and with District 833 offering its own network at the library, students are beginning to utilize the public facility with school iPads.

“The library wants to be there to support the teachers, to support the students as the program rolls out,” Lubbers said.

The 2013 report highlights increased usage partially due to Sunday and Monday hours restored during the school year.

But with more visitors – 1,100 per day – comes more noise, which is the No. 1 complaint at the library.

Given the demographics of the city and programs offered, Lubbers said it’s often difficult to keep the noise down during story time and when little tykes get excited to browse for books.

“There are a lot of little people that come to the library,” he said. “We’re victims of our own success here.”

Library users also find it challenging to find free outlets to plug in their electronic devices. But staff has been handing out power strips for those who request them and additional outlets are set for installation in the next few weeks.

The year 2013 wasn’t completely free of challenges when it came to volunteer hours, Lubbers said.

Compared to previous years during the recession, volunteer hours have seen a downward trend.

According to the report, volunteers contributed 2,850 hours of service in 2013, down from 3,297 in 2012.

But they still totaled about $64,000 worth of service, or $22.55 per hour, Lubbers said.

“The advocacy and the support for the library in the Woodbury community is truly laudable,” he said. “I like to tell folks too that we have a library that’s not just supported by the community members; we have a library that’s also staffed by community members.”

Riham Feshir
Riham Feshir is a reporter and photographer for the Woodbury Bulletin. Her coverage includes Woodbury City Hall, Washington County Board of Commissioners and business news.  Follow Riham on Twitter @RihamFeshir for the latest updates.