On June 5, the San Diego County Library system earned the Gale Library Journal “2012 Library of the Year Award.” The group (LIbrary Journal and Gale, which produces reference sources for libraries) affirmed the library’s outstanding “ingenuity, creativity and perseverance” with record-breaking success in the face of budgetary cuts.
Encinitas branch manager Amy Geddes is confident that her library (and the other 32 branches in the county library system) is reclaiming power of written and spoken discourse.
“We respond to what our members want,” she says, saying she snaps up “any good deals” on classes, workshops, and materials. “I follow the marketplace model. I ask, ‘What do the people want now?’ It may be ‘Silver Age Yoga,’ or ‘Doggie Tales,’ a seminar on reading to dogs —anything is fair game, really, if it adds value to the community.”
Geddes also points out that director José A. Aponte launched “floating” collections using new systems and "regional consortia" to stimulate a stagnant circulation. County libraries reported a threefold increase in circulation since 2008, from 4.1 million to 12.1 million, despite severe budget cuts (30% in the past three years). Last year, county libraries offered 20,000 programs, including a 20 percent increase in adult programs and realized a 40 percent increase in attendance.
Aponte and his team also redrafted library spaces to offer the public more face-to-face contact with librarians. The Encinitas Library alone reported raising its membership by over 10,000 cardholders since 2008, which is now more than 75 percent of the total population of Encinitas; in 2011, the branch served 435,000 customers, lending 630,000 materials.