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Library Journal magazine and Gale, a national library content supplier, have named San Diego County Library’s 33 branch system as Library of the Year.

Despite a 30% reduction in funding over the last three years, circulation throughout the system has more than tripled, from 4.1 million items in 2008 to 12.4 million in 2011. Facing a depleted materials budget, the implementation of “floating” collections between branches by library director Jose Aponte appears effective in bringing fresh content to local branches, fueling demand.

Participation in programs offered by the library, including parent education classes, kids’ summer reading clubs, and health screenings for the uninsured has quadrupled over the past six years. Library Journal highlights a partnership between the library and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Housing Opportunities Collaborative to offer free four-hour classes to educate distressed homeowners facing foreclosure. Since 2009, the first-of-its-kind program offered by a public library system has hosted more than 3,100 attendees.

Budget gaps were partially filled by volunteer Service Learners, teens recruited to do volunteer work in libraries in order to boost their resumes when looking for future paid work. Last year nearly 1,600 volunteers contributed 30,000 hours of service, equivalent to about $800,000 in staffing value.

Award sponsors will present the library with $10,000 and a cover story on the upcoming June 15 issue.

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