Library Numbers Are Growing
There has been a 22 percent increase in the number of cardholders at the Princeton Public Library since last spring, equivalent to more than 5,000 new members, according to a recent report from the library's Board of Trustees.
There are a total of 28,241 active cardholders, and approximately 2,500 visitors on a daily basis, Library Director Leslie Burger reported at the July 19 meeting.
The total circulation of library items has also increased almost 45 percent since last year, and the size of the collection has grown more than 9 percent.
In addition, the library has taken in $20,000 more than anticipated in fines this spring, $1,300 more in lost material charges, $7,000 more in rental fees and usage charges, and $2,000 more in meeting room rental fees.
This financial report was drawn up in part because the Borough had requested information regarding use of the Spring Street garage by library patrons since its opening last spring. Both the Borough and Township pay for the library to offer up to two hours free parking at the garage to library cardholders, and Borough Council members have questioned whether the distribution of parking costs between the two entities was fair.
The library has found that in July 2004, 20 percent of the library's parking validations were for Borough residents, and 75 percent were for Township residents. By October it was 28 percent Borough and 72 percent Township.
In 2004, the Borough paid $29,000 toward free parking for library patrons, and the Township paid $71,000, which, according to recent library data, agrees with the percentage of library patrons using the facility and the garage from each municipality.
Ms. Burger attributed the lower number of Borough residents to the Borough's large number of Princeton University students, who are more likely to use their library on campus.
Overall, the number of walk-in patrons has also increased since last spring, with a total of 223,662 users between April and June of this year, up 84 -percent from last year. This is in part due to the library's transition from the old facility to the new one last April, when the library had limited hours at both facilities.
The number of adults attending library programs has also more than doubled since last year.
Fifty percent of active cardholders live in the Township; 30 percent live in the Borough. Non-resident active cardholders stand at 12 percent, or 3,472 people, which is up from previous years. Ms. Burger said that non-resident card fees have been increased to $150, which exceeds the amount needed to fund staffing for the additional library users.
On other financial matters, Ms. Burger announced that to date, the library has incurred $170,632 in expenses that, once approved, should be paid for through the Borough's capital budget. While the budget was introduced at the Borough's July 12 meeting, the library will be unable to obtain the funds until September.
At the recommendation of the Borough's administrator, Ms. Burger will request a $100,000 advance from the Borough to pay for the current shortfall.
In addition, the library is spending less than anticipated for salaries and benefits this year due to unexpected vacancies, although trash and snow removal costs continue to exceed estimates, and will be addressed toward the end of the year.
In other news, the board of trustees also discussed the library's new policy on Internet use on the children's floor. According to Susan Conlon, teen services librarian, a lot of young children often go on the computers in the library and use the Internet unsupervised, which often leads to the playing of games on the computer.
Under the library's new policy, patrons are allowed up to one hour on the computer before they have to sign off. Once they sign off, they are unable to access the Internet again until one hour later.
"We thought it was a way to have everyone 'drop everything and read,'" said Ms. Conlon, adding that the library will continue with the new system for the duration of the summer to see how it works out.