NEW ORLEANS – In 2014, there were more than 1.14 million visits to the New Orleans Public Library main branch and its 13 branch libraries. The library is the only information, education and entertainment resource that is completely free and open to the public, making it one of the city’s most valuable community assets.
Literacy is one of the most important challenges in New Orleans and its library system is a core of resources and programs. In 2014, 52,000 children, teens and adults attended 3,108 library programs. Circulation of books, DVDs, CDs, eBooks and movie downloads among these visitors increased by 7 percent to 1.1 million, with digital circulation increasing by 57 percent to more than 373,000 users.
While the library provides significant benefits to its increasing number of users, the positive effects of the New Orleans Public Library are not limited to those who consistently use its resources. The library system provides additional value and quality of life to all New Orleans residents by serving as an important supplement to the school system, participating as a valuable asset in the fight against crime and reducing the digital divide among the underprivileged, the young and the elderly.
Library systems throughout southeast Louisiana have directed efforts toward young readers, initiating teen programs and addressing important issues through outcomes-based initiatives. These initiatives ensure available resources, access to information and programming related to early childhood, school success, digital literacy and adult literacy for all visitors.
In addition to existing programs, such as the Every Child Ready to Read Family Workshops and the children’s summer reading program, the New Orleans Public Library partnered with the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities to create PRIME TIME programs. These programs generate long-term improvements in family engagement and student academic achievement by gathering families at the library to share a meal together, enjoy storytelling and engage in activities that build the foundation of reading abilities.
The New Orleans Public Library branches also conducted several system programs to provide teens and adults basic learning principles and skills needed to become work-ready. The first adult summer reading program was held last year and drew more than 540 participants. More than 800 teens registered for the eight-week teen summer reading program, breaking a post-Katrina record.
The proposal on the upcoming ballot would add 2.5 mills to Orleans Parish resident annual tax payments. The current and proposed annual costs for all libraries is estimated to be $126.76 for a home assessed at $300,000. Combined with the existing 3.14 mills, residents would pay fewer than $11 per month for the entire cost of operating the local library. Show your support of the proposition on the May 2 ballot by voting and encouraging others to vote. Early voting will begin April 18-25.