Thursday, May 3, 2012

Exponential Library Growth

Everything looked bright and shiny when the newly-built Library opened in January, 1988.  MPL staff eagerly embarked on this latest adventure in providing bibliographical services to their community.  Click images to enlarge.

Opening Day at the New Library (January, 1988)
L to R:
Pat Vahey, MPL Director (1987-1997)
Wanda Potts, Indiana Room Librarian (1966-2002)
Bonita Marley, Retired MPL Director (1961-1984)
Theresa Lucas, MPL Staffer
Mattie Deaton, MPL Staffer

Bonita Marley (left) and Wanda Potts (right) working
at the new Library's Circulation Desk (January, 1988)

From 1988 onward, the Library's growth was exponential.  This mirrored the corresponding increases in population and business development in Mooresville, Indiana, during the late 1980s and throughout the 1990s.  It was a town on the move, and its citizens expected a Library that could satisfy its burgeoning informational needs.  The Library was glad to accommodate.

Libraries are driven by statistics.  Recall that MPL total collection size in 1988 was 32,000 units.  Let's review MPL's collection growth between 1994 to 2010.

Click Table to Enlarge

By 1998, the Library Board held its first public meetings to determine the feasibility, and to chart a course of action, in undertaking a Library expansion project.  This long-term planning process would ultimately take seven years before sufficient funding was assured, as the Library Board and Director took great pains to prevent the mounting of unmanageable debt.  Sound fiscal practice has been the standard of MPL throughout its century of public service, and the community served owes a huge thanks to the MPL Boards of Trustees and Directors over the past 100 years.  In 2005, a 24,500 square foot addition was grafted to the 1988 building, effectively tripling available space.

The 1990s growth included more than physical materials at the Library.  It also included early Internet databases, electronic resources (e.g., CD-ROMs), and computers for public and staff use.  In the mid-1990s, MPL automated its card catalog and established its first OPAC (online public access catalog) accessible by computer.  The Library also purchased computers and printers for public use.

With the expansion of collections and technologies, Library programs also blossomed, and attendance rose accordingly.  This was particularly noticeable in the MPL Children's Department.  Bigger collections, additional technologies, and larger programming costs money.  Next time, we'll discover how MPL was able to accommodate these elevating expenditures at negligible cost to taxpayers.

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