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True grit

news & opinion

Community

by Meaghan Walsh Gerard

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Sigmund Hudson, along with his wife Anne, have been volunteers with the Friends of the Library for several years. The support group helps with many projects including the semiannual large book sales. “We sort several thousand books into about 15 categories,” he notes. “We work the sale itself, helping count books, check people out. We do the same at author book signings.” The group also assists in the planning of the annual gala and mans the information tent at the Children’s Book Festival. When asked why he chooses to give his time to the library he recalls his own childhood in Memphis. “As a young kid, we always lived within a bicycle ride of the branch. As a teenager, I would catch the city bus and make three stops: the five and dime store, the magic store and the branch library. It overlooked the Mississippi River and it was a quiet place in the very busy city. When we moved to Savannah, we bought a house near the Bull Street branch and my two sons continued the tradition of riding their bikes to the library.”

By the numbers They are not alone in their enthusiasm for the Live Oak Public Libraries. In FY10 (July 1, 2009 – June 30, 2010) their circulation was just under 2 million (up 19.5% from FY09) and their visits were up 4.5% to more than 1.5 million; that from a population of about 400,000 in Chatham, Effingham, and Liberty Counties. 35,000 of them attended the Children’s Book Festival on November 13, a special annual event with authors, illustrators, storytellers, crafts, food tents and more. In FY10 alone, there were 1761 children’s events in 17 of the 18 branches, including the Summer Reading Program, weekly book readings, storytelling, art contests and game nights. One of the 12,811 children registered in the Summer Reading Program is Thomas Bordeaux, 8, a student at Charles Ellis. He goes to the library at

JAN 12 - JAN 18, 2011 | WWW.CONNECTSAVANNAH.COM

Live Oak Public Libraries host gala after banner year

least once a week. “Recently, I found some good books,” he said, “called ‘Loud Boy’, and I learned some new words, like ‘repel’.” His favorites are comics and construction books. His mother, Nelle, says the unsung heroes are the librarians in the children’s section. “They don’t just read the books aloud,” she explains. “They act, sing, bring them alive. They know many of the children by name and are masters at gently guiding them to new books.”

Return on Investment • About $34 of taxes from each citizen goes to library funding – comparable to one hardcover, new release book. The average library user checks out seven books a year. • Literacy has a dramatic impact on local demographics including crime, poverty and health. • Two–thirds of children who cannot read proficiently by 4th grade will be in jail or on welfare. • A Department of Justice report notes, “The link between academic failure and delinquency, violence, and crime is welded to reading failure.” More than 70% of U.S. prison inmates cannot read above a 4th grade level. • The low literacy level costs $73 million per year in terms of direct health care costs to America. A recent study by Pfizer estimated the cost to be higher. Clearly, a great library system is worth its weight in books. Any one of these statistics proves its value far beyond the price tag. Yet, Live Oak Public Libraries experienced a 2.8% drop in funding in FY10, and another 4.5% drop for FY11 budgets. Compared to similar libraries (same number of branches, similar demographic served), Live Oak Public Libraries receives an average of only two–thirds the amount of funding. At the same time, public demand for library use is up, not only for books, but for internet usage, job searches, and an ever–growing list of various media. Library Director Christian Kruse notes, “Our materials budget is smaller continues on p. 12

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Jan. 12, 2011 Connect Savannah Issue  

Featuring Savannah metal band Kylesa; remembering Spitfire Poetry Group founder Clinton Powell; Live Oak Public Libraries annual gala; versa...

Jan. 12, 2011 Connect Savannah Issue  

Featuring Savannah metal band Kylesa; remembering Spitfire Poetry Group founder Clinton Powell; Live Oak Public Libraries annual gala; versa...

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