Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXV, No. 3
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
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Burger Details Library’s “Wonderful Year” at Council Meeting, Looks Ahead to Future

Dilshanie Perera

Executive Director of the Princeton Public Library Leslie Burger reported on the state of the institution in 2010, calling it a “really wonderful year.”

“We started the year with $100,000 less than what we anticipated,” Ms. Burger noted, saying that “it was obviously appropriate given the economy.” Staff strove not to “pass along [the decrease] to our customers, “particularly since we’ve seen an increase in library use during this economic downturn.”

Looking at other ways to achieve savings, Ms. Burger said the library positions that became vacant due to employee retirements would be left open longer. In the end, the library maintained its 72 hour per week service. “We held even on our efforts to maintain library materials, and stepped up our efforts to help the unemployed, job seekers, new immigrants, young people, and seniors.”

Over the course of last year, 789,000 people visited the library. Card-holders number 33,000 people, and 513,000 items were checked out. Additionally, 5,000 audio books were downloaded, and 900 items were sent through the Library by Mail program.

Volunteer engagement numbered 1,878 hours, which is the equivalent of one full-time employee, Ms. Burger noted. The English as a Second Language lab program saw a 54 percent increase, and the after school tutoring saw a 27 percent increase. Approximately 53,000 people came to the 1,600 library programs offered throughout the year.

“We remain busy, and we remain very much at the heart of this community,” Ms. Burger acknowledged.

In addition to celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2010, the library also reached its endowment goal of raising $10 million, in time for the public celebration on October 10.

Despite reductions in state aid, which used to total $37,000, but this past year was $14,000, the public library managed to expand operations in some areas. The book sale garnered it’s largest-ever annual income, for instance.

As the 21st century moves into its second decade, Ms. Burger said that the library is adjusting to new formats, and is engaging in purchasing e-books and other downloadable content. For instance, cardholders can access and download mp3 files for free at

Projects in the works for the upcoming year include working on new ways of using space and expanding venues for gatherings, as well as looking at internal processes and documenting what the staff does. “We want to simplify and enhance the customer experience at the library,” Ms. Burger said.

A book drop at the Dinky station, and a potential book dispensing machine that could hold up to 800 items may also be in the works.

Of library patrons and community members who use the facility, Ms. Burger declared, “We’re changing their lives everyday.”

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