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PORT WASHINGTON - Usage numbers at the Niederkorn Library may have been down slightly in 2016, but spirits are up as far as Library Director Tom Carson is concerned.

“The past year has been one of a lot of changes and despite the numbers being down from 2015, it is clear to me that the numbers actually reflect the high usage of the library and its resources overall,” said Carson, who has been director since last May.

The 2016 Annual Report revealed usership to be down, but most other numbers were stable or increasing.

“It is clear to me that Port residents support their local library, so we are here to do everything we can to provide access to books, DVDs and other materials,” Carson said.

One of the main demonstrations of that effort can be seen through the relatively recent partnership with the Monarch Library System, which allows Niederkorn Library patrons more access to a variety of resources.

“Each library has its own unique buying habits to meet the needs of their community, but this really expands our coverage area and allows our patrons to have more access to more materials,” Carson said.

The library is in the process of replacing and updating all of its public computers and improving its work stations, in addition to adding more laptops and Chromebooks to its inventory to encourage mobile use throughout the facility.

The staff is also coordinating with the city’s Parks and Recreation program to facilitate additional cooperative programming, specifically during the summer months.

And the children’s room is getting some improvements in the months to come as well.

“Most public libraries are starting to see a decline in overall use, but that’s a good thing because it means our economy is improving,” Carson explained. “We are unique as our numbers are down a little bit but really not that much considering how many people opt to go out and buy the book or movie instead of coming to the library right now. We really are a well-used, well-loved and well-utilized organization.”

Well-loved is among many favorable descriptions Port resident and mom of two Elise Holstein used to describe the library. In warmer months, she walks to the library from her home multiple times a week.

“I grew up having distinct memories of going to libraries as a kid, and worked at the Oostburg Library through high school and college, so I wanted my children to have a similar appreciation for everything the library has to offer,” said Holstein, who is a stay-at-home mom to 3-year-old Nadia and 5-month-old Alec. “I wanted trips to the library to be normal for my kids, so I can provide the same experiences for them as I had.”

Storytime and playtime are on the Holstein family’s to-do list during their library visits. They also enjoy reading and checking out books.

“The children’s area is really something special,” said Holstein. “We love the big train table, but also one of my favorite things about the library is the big windows downstairs. The sun streams in and it’s really just the perfect ambiance for sitting and reading a book.”

In response to some of the improvements on tap for 2017, Holstein said she can’t wait.

“I honestly don’t understand when people tell me they never go to the library,” Holstein said. “We love it so much that when I say the word out loud my daughter runs to get her shoes on and she’s ready to go.”

BY THE NUMBERS

205,231: Items checked out

6,732: Total card holders

100,320: Visitors

561: Hours of volunteer service

20,000: Wireless hours of computer usage

*Data taken from the 2016 Annual Report

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