LAKE ELMO — An increase in the number of people using the Lake Elmo Public Library this summer led library officials to add more hours for the second time in about a month.
The additional hours mean the library is now open 42 hours a week, according to librarian Linda Orsted.
The library located in the Clock building on Lake Elmo Avenue about two blocks north of Minnesota 5 will open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
Orsted and Library Board President Steve DeLapp both said there were several reasons why library hours were expanded.
“We want to be open for the after-school crowd. Students and their families need access to the library for research and homework help,” Orsted said.
“Part of it was that Linda works 40 hours a week,” DeLapp added. “We’ve added after-school hours. There’s no reason not to keep the doors open.”
DeLapp added that the library also has enough volunteers to help Orsted cover the added hours.
“Linda was here anyway and the volunteers are here until 2:30 in the afternoon when their time is up at 2,” he said.
DeLapp said the new hours begin next week after Orsted returns from vacation.
Increasing use of the Lake Elmo library in June, July and August also justified the additional hours, according to DeLapp. Usage figures collected by the board show that from September 2012 through February, the library counted both visitors and volunteers.
There were 353 library visitors in September 2012, according to figures supplied by DeLapp. In subsequent months, library visitor numbers ranged from a high of 597 in March to a low of 298 in January.
But in April, visitor numbers jumped to 813 and 818 in May. In June, the number of library visitors increased by 678 to 1,496. July saw 1,575 visitors and August had 1,206 visitors.
“They’re making the library part of their lives,” he said about library visitors.
DeLapp attributed the increase in summer visits to the library’s reading program for area students and other community programs, including Lakeview Health’s PowerUp 4 Kids.
“We feel great about that,” he said about library use. “We’re getting more use out of our library than our parks.”
Another reason DeLapp cites for the Lake Elmo library’s popularity is its collection. He said 11,000 books have been donated to the library, many of them popular best sellers.
“We generally have a better selection of best sellers on hand or on hold than anywhere else in the Twin Cities,” he said. “We get lots of best sellers.”
DeLapp said one donor gave the library the complete series of Peterson nature series books worth about $3,000.
“Linda Orsted said, ‘You’ve got a nice collection of books’,” he said. “We’re very selective about what we keep.”
Donated books the library does not keep are given to Books for Africa and other groups, DeLapp added.
The Lake Elmo library’s growth has not gone unnoticed in other communities. Marine on St. Croix has a similar library operation with volunteers and donated books, but has Washington County Library computers and the WCL’s book drop-off and pick-up kiosk.
WCL also has a popular kiosk at the Hugo City Hall, and WCL Executive Director Patricia Conley was scheduled to talk to the Hugo City Council Tuesday. Both county commissioners and Conley have indicated that if WCL builds another branch, Hugo would be the likely site due to the city’s growth.
DeLapp said to his knowledge, no one from Hugo has contacted Lake Elmo officials to learn how Lake Elmo set up its library.
“They haven’t contacted us at all,” he said.
Contact Erik Sandin at [email protected]
The following figures from the Lake Elmo Public Library Board show the number of monthly library visitors. Some monthly figures include visitors and volunteers, but figures from mid-spring 2013 to now include only visitors.
Sept. 2012 353
Oct. 2012 439
Nov. 2012 232
Dec. 2012 330
Jan. 2013 298
Feb. 2013 491
March 2013 597
April 2013 813
May 2013 818
June 2013 1,496
July 2013 1,575
Aug. 2013 1,206
— Source: Lake Elmo Public Library Board