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Sanibel Public Library named one of America's Star Libraries

October 20, 2010

Last week, the Sanibel Public Library learned that it had been named one of America's Star Libraries 2010 by The Library Journal Index.

However, library director Margaret Mohundro admits that she had an inkling that the library might receive the honor, having to keep that news "under her hat" until the official announcement was made.

"(The Library Journal Index) called me about a month ago to confirm some of the statistics we provided for them," Mohundro recalled on Friday. "They told me that we were under consideration for the honor... but I couldn't tell anybody. I had to keep that news to myself."

The Library Journal Index rated 7,407 public libraries, and identified the 258 star libraries. The ratings are based on data libraries reported for four per capita service outputs:

• Visits

• Circulation

• Program attendance

• Public Internet terminal use

According to Mohundro, the Sanibel Public Library received three stars, making the Dunlop Road facility the only library in the entire state of Florida to be recognized with the highest rating The Library Journal Index designates.

"We try to keep up with what's going on nationally and what other libraries are doing," she said. "Our staff tries to keep up with what the trends are and try out new ideas. Over the past couple of years, some of those new ideas we've tried have been very successful."

Among the state-of-the-art information and services provided by the library are Mango Languages, which offers more than 20 different language programs available at the library or via the library's website; TeenSpace, activities and services offered for younger readers; First Friday Stories For Grownups; and the Sanibel Public Library Foundation's popular Author Series, which last year included best-sellers Jodi Piccoult, Clive Cussler and Elizabeth Berg.

The 2010-11 Author Series will offer Lisa Scottoline (Dec. 6), Harlan Coben (Jan. 11), Anita Shreve (Feb. 10) and Lee Child (March 24).

"People here are very well educated, cultured, have a great interest in the arts and for lifelong learning," Mohundro stated. "Our patrons have always been very supportive of the library and its programs."

The Library Journal Index is a national rating system designed to recognize and promote America's public libraries, to help improve the pool of nationally collected library statistics, and to encourage library self-evaluation. The rankings are based on data gathered from 2008 in more than 30 individual categories.

"I know the citizens of Sanibel expect a lot from their library, and we try to deliver that to them," said Mohundro. "This honor shows that we have a staff which serves the public well. They listen to what the people want and try to give them everything they need."

This ranking is the result of a supportive public, an encouraging citizen-elected board, a dedicated staff, and the Sanibel Public Library Foundation, whose members are "strong library allies."

By the end of 2010, Mohundro addded, the library will be offering eShelf, where patrons will be able to download eBooks and/or audiobooks to their Nook, iPad, MP3 player or other eReader devices.

"That's being funded by our Foundation and we are confident it will be very successful," she said. "If you have a Sanibel Public Library card, you'll be able to download books right here or from your home, 24 hours a day and seven days a week. For free. It's the new generation of libraries... a library beyond walls."

Of course, Mohundro wanted to give credit for the three-star ranking where that credit is due: to the library's dedicated staff of full- and part-time employees as well as its corps of volunteers.

"This is a true team effort. Everybody here is very involved in ensuring our success as a library," she added. "We have up to 50 volunteers working here in season. They really keep things moving along. We'd have a real log-jam if we didn't have them."

Article Photos

Staff members and volunteers for the Sanibel Public Library were recently recognized by The Library Journal Index, touted as the only three-star library in the entire state of Florida.



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