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2023 Library Recap: A Year of Milestones, Progress & Innovation

Posted on December 28, 2023 at 4:00 am

By Jane Baker

A library is defined as a building or room containing collections of books, magazines, and other materials for people to read, borrow, or reference. Those who visit our libraries regularly often have warmer descriptions, such as “my happy place” or “heaven on earth.” The range of descriptions in between the dictionary definition and that of an avid fan is as wide and diverse as the customers we serve.

It is Spokane County Library District’s (SCLD) mission to provide resources, services, and programs in response to the variety of needs of our customers. This year, SCLD introduced, changed, or improved several services, resources, policies, and programs to continue this mission. Here are some notable milestones from 2023.

Library District Goes Fine Free

The best news of the year was announced on day one.

Spokane County Library District announced the end of overdue fines as of January 1, 2023. Overdue fines are no longer charged for borrowed items not returned by the due date.

Customers are still accountable for the items they borrow. When an item is 4 weeks overdue, SCLD considers it lost and bills the customer for the full price of the item.

Facility Updates

New Spokane Valley Library Opens

The new Spokane Valley Library (22 N Herald Rd) opened on Saturday, June 17.

The 28,000-square-foot facility features contemporary technology, the large Diane E. Zahand Community room, The STCU Studio that’s fully equipped for public use, several smaller conference rooms, and a vibrant, spacious children’s area. The 70,000-item collection from the former facility was relocated to the new building.

Financing for the library was through a unique combination of funding sources that allowed for construction of a new Spokane Valley Library without the need to raise taxes through a ballot measure.

The BookEnd in Spokane Valley Mall Closes

As SCLD explored different options for funding new libraries, The BookEnd was opened to demonstrate SCLD’s commitment to library services in Greater Spokane Valley. With the opening of the new Spokane Valley Library, the closure of The BookEnd aligned with that original intent and allowed for refocusing resources at the new, larger library.

City of Airway Heights Annexes into SCLD

The Airway Heights City Council placed, and voters approved, two propositions on the primary election ballot to annex to Spokane County Library District to continue funding the local library.

Liberty Lake Regional Park Seasonal Lending Library Pilot Project

Parkside Books is a three-year collaboration between SCLD and Spokane County Parks, Recreation and Golf Department with approval from Spokane County Commissioners.

This popup-style library located in the park is stocked with our “Second Look” collection. These are items that have been taken out of the circulating collection as per SCLD’s standard collection management policies and are also of sufficient condition and topical interest to be made publicly available. Parkside Books is unstaffed, uses the honor system, and is open April through October.

Electric Vehicle Charging Stations

The installation of Avista’s grant-funded electric vehicle chargers at the Argonne, Moran Prairie, North Spokane, Otis Orchards, and Spokane Valley Libraries is complete. The chargers are available for customer use.

Avista has applied for a new round of electric vehicle charger grants, and if awarded, Avista will install chargers at the Medical Lake and Deer Park Libraries.

Security Camera Installation

As part of the 2019 levy funding priorities, installation of security cameras on the exterior and entrances of SCLD facilities was identified as a key operational safety project and completed in 2023. Along with keyless entry and alarm system updates, the intent of the security camera project is to provide our libraries with greater environmental control of its facilities to better maintain safe and welcoming places for customers and staff.

Programs & Resources

Summer Reading

Friendship, kindness, and unity encompassed this year’s summer reading theme of All Together Now, featuring a reading challenge, events, and activities.

A total of 1,265 readers joined the reading challenge. These participants achieved a cumulative total of 830,588 minutes spent reading. In addition, 1,694 activities were completed, 7,990 badges earned, and 465 book reviews submitted.

There were 6,827 people who attended summer reading programs. These events included a virtual author visit with Sharon Draper, concerts in parks and libraries, Camp Read-a-Rama, Nerf battles, mini golf programs, escape rooms, hikes, and many more activities.

New Catalog Introduced

The library premiered a new catalog with a fresh look and more features to aid in finding books and materials. The catalog features easier browsing, various catalog menus, and search results that group together all available format options for a title, including links to digital resources.

Library customers can also access My Account information, such as holds, due dates, and renewals as well as create and save custom lists and searches when logged in to the catalog.

Kanopy Added to Digital Library

Library card holders who are in-district can enjoy an ad-free streaming experience on their TV, mobile devices, and tablets as well as online from Kanopy. Viewing is instantaneous and unlimited and includes movies, documentaries, foreign films, classic cinema, independent films, kids programming, and educational videos.

Stay Sharp Kits Offered

Stay Sharp Kits are designed to be used with individuals who are experiencing memory loss or cognitive issues related to dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and other memory disorders. These kits include supportive activities and games to help reduce memory loss. There are 11 different themed kits with something for most everyone.  

Excel Adult High School Diploma Program Launched

SCLD introduced Excel Adult High School which provides an opportunity for individuals in our service area to complete their high school education and earn their diploma from an accredited program.

7th Annual Spokane Writers Conference

The 2023 Spokane Writers Conference was our largest conference to date. This was our first year of collaborating with Spokane Public Library to expand the conference to two days and two locations, offering informative and creative approaches to writing and revision as well as insights into the processes for getting work published.

Annular Solar Eclipse

Over 90 people attended the annular solar eclipse viewing party on October 14. Despite cloudy weather obscuring the event, families enjoyed learning about solar science. We debuted our new Sunspotter Solar Telescopes, which will soon be available in the Library of Things, along with our Orion Telescopes and dozens of other things of interest.

Fire Response

In response to the devastating Gray Fire, Medical Lake, Airway Heights, and Cheney Libraries offered support and services for the West Plains community. Medical Lake Library extended its open hours.

To assist people affected by the Oregon Road wildfire in Elk, our mobile library LINC increased scheduled stops at the community shelter at Riverside High School in Chattaroy and other locations to offer support and services for the community.

StartUp Spokane

Spokane County Library District and Spokane Public Library partnered to revitalize StartUp Spokane, a program originally created by Greater Spokane Incorporated (GSI) to support local entrepreneurs and foster business growth.

This natural extension of existing library resources will reach even more of the business community and offer all our accessible resources for aspiring and established business owners throughout the region.

Jane Baker

Jane Baker is the Communication & Development Director for Spokane County Library District, managing library marketing, public relations, and fundraising. In her free time, she enjoys photography, hiking, paddle boarding, gardening, and being outdoors in the Northwest.

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