Use of Windsor Public Library branches remains high despite pandemic

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Despite frequent shutdowns due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, use of the Windsor Public Library jumped over the past year, the library board was told Tuesday during its annual general meeting.

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Board chairman Coun. Rino Bortolin reported a total circulation increase of 7.6 per cent at local library branches in 2021 over the previous year. Also noteworthy was how nearly half of Windsor’s residents — 45.6 per cent — now carry a library card.

“That’s a five per cent increase over 2020,” said Bortolin, who was also re-elected as library board chairman for the upcoming year during the meeting. “Almost 50 per cent of our residents have a library card.

“Aside from our public infrastructure — roads, sewers and sidewalks — nothing is more used by our community.”

The library’s website use and digital circulation was also up significantly over the past year, he said. In total, 1,238,714 items were checked out in 2021.

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“It’s all great news,” Bortolin said. “In the best of times, these figures would be impressive. But given that we have been in a pandemic, our staff really deserves a huge pat on the back. This speaks volumes and tells us how important the services of the Windsor Public Library are in this community.”

For the upcoming year, at the top of the to-do list for the Windsor Public Library remains deciding on a suitable site and plan for the central branch — a replacement for the downtown main library in the 800 block of Ouellette Avenue that was sold off a few years ago, he said.

Library CEO Kitty Pope provided financial details of the library during the meeting which took in $8.9 million in revenues last year — in part thanks to private donations. Expenditures equated to $8.1 million with $6.7 million being paid in salaries to the library’s 75 full-time equivalent staff members.

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Pope also noted a recent local private $10,000 donation was made to the library to specifically purchase Ukrainian resources and materials — primarily for children — with an anticipated influx of refugees expected to arrive in the city in the coming weeks and months.

On Wednesday at Budimir Branch (1310 Grand Marais Rd W.) at 11 am, the library is staging a friendly building competition between two councilors — Bortolin and Jim Morrison — to help launch its Off the Shelf campaign to promote its available tool lending collection and DIY resource materials that includes eBooks, audio books and videos.

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