I don’t know when my love of reading started, but my elementary school library is my earliest memory.
I went to a rural school that had about 100 children in grades kindergarten through eighth.
They offered a lifetime reading circle if you read a certain number of books in each grade level.
I wouldn’t say I’m competitive, but I may find it a little hard to miss a goal, once it’s set.
Our school library was small, but so was my world at that time, and that one tiny room seemed full of endless possibilities.
The summers were different.
We didn’t live in town, so we didn’t qualify for city membership of our local municipal library.
Without regular access to a library for three whole months, I collected books through the school year. My purchases from school book fairs and those I was given in the fall and spring would be put back for June, July and August.
The first day of summer meant I could finally dig into all of those titles waiting on my bookshelves.
I wish we had had access to a facility like the Poplar Bluff Municipal Library when I was growing up.
The Poplar Bluff library offers cards free to all those who reside in the following Missouri counties: Butler, Carter, Dunklin, Ripley, Stoddard and Wayne.
They have regular programs for children, teens and adults.
More recently, I’ve discovered their digital content through the hoopla app. It offers regular digital copies of books, but also audiobooks, which can be much easier to find time for in a busy day.
I discovered “102 Minutes: Inside the Towers” through the library app. It was written by Jim Dwyer, a reporter at The New York Times, and Kevin Flynn, a special projects editor for the paper.
They weave together personal stories of those who were trapped in the Twin Towers on Sept. 11, 2001, with many critical details in a way that had my complete attention.
Those details included how bad decisions made during construction of the buildings impacted their collapse, and how a lack of communication between first responders before the attack deeply hurt their ability to respond on that day.
I was asked recently by someone who probably should know better, if anyone uses our library today.
I’ll admit I may not get to pick up a physical book as much as I would like (that is always my preference), but I regularly use their digital content. And not just the app, but also archives of local history that can only be found here, including Poplar Bluff city directories and microfilm editions of local newspapers going back more than 100 years.
In fact, the library reached a new milestone in 2019, with 200,594 total checkouts. The information is included in the recently released 2019 annual report.
It hosted more than 67,000 visitors to its website and fielded over 20,000 phone calls (about 60 per day).
Library visitors topped 96,000, who used more than 19,000 computer sessions and 13,000 Wi-Fi sessions.
Digital checkouts were at 21% of all borrowing, library officials report (including 10,124 downloads through hoopla).
The library also offered 387 programs, attended by more than 15,000 people.
It averages about 286 visitors per day.
The library is funded by a local sales tax that generated about $1.28 million in 2019. Total revenues were at $1.37 million, with state aid and grants less than $11,000 of that.
Expenses were $1.2 million, with just under $620,000 paying salaries, operations costing $371,500. Materials cost the library about $102,000, and a capital outlay was $115,600.
The library has a cash reserve that started the year at $1.3 million, and is now approximately $1.47 million.
If you want to know more, join the thousands who visit their website www.poplarbluff.org, and step through their doors each year.