It has been over a year since the newly renovated Pekin Public Library opened, and the numbers of patrons and increased services continue to be impressive, though adult usage is down slightly.
Customer use of the library’s collection of books, e-books, magazines, periodicals, computers and much more are up by 1.8 percent overall, said Library Director Jeff Brooks.
“What we’re comparing it to is the last full year we were in the building (prior to the renovation) — that year ended in April 2014,” said Brooks.
The annual report for the library indicates, however, that adult reading activities are down 4 percent from 2014. Brooks said adult reading habits fluctuate. The circulation of children’s materials was up 17.2 percent, or by 93,109 items, over 2014’s number of 79,415. That, said Brooks in the report, “tells us that more families are making it a priority to visit the library.”
In 2014 and 2015, the library added two new additions to the facility and renovated the old sections of the existing building at a cost of 6.4 million. It reopened in 2016.
“In general, we’re busier than we were last year at this time,” said Brooks. “I haven’t actually crunched the numbers, but we’re up 5,000 on patron visits.
“That alone says that 5,000 people did more stuff. More people are coming to our programs, checking out materials, and our computer usage was up, so people are using those.”
Computer usage has been popular at the library for many years, said Brooks, especially during the great recession.
“We were well used for our internet at that time as people had to give up their internet at home or could not afford to repair their computers if they had issues,” said Brooks. “We used to have long waits for internet stations.”
The internet usage has not diminished with the improved economy.
“Pekin’s poverty levels are not getting any better,” said Brooks. “We went from 9-point something percent in 2000 to 14-point something percent in 2010.
“We’ll have another census in a couple of years, so we’ll see where we’re at. That’s pretty significant between 2000 and 2010. I don’t see it going down. The library, just like the libraries that Carnegie supported 100 years ago, we’re here for the low income (families) as much as anybody else.”
Brooks said people have smart phones now that allow them access to the internet, but they often come to the library to use the computers there for more intricate work such as resumes and reports.
“You still have a hard time applying for a job through your phone,” said Brooks. “That’s where we come in.
“Surfing the internet is one thing. Doing a resume on your phone doesn’t give you a quality document.”
Follow Sharon Woods Harris at Twitter.com/sharrispekin