Folks who visit the Weatherford Public Library attest to all it has to offer. Now, the state of Texas is also endorsing the facility.
The Weatherford Public Library was recently given a 2016 Achievement of Library Excellence Award from the Texas Municipal League. Of the 548 public library systems in the State of Texas, only 43 received the 2016 award.
The award is based on libraries showing excellence in the following areas:
▪ Summer Reading Program for youths, teens and/or adults.
▪ Services to underserved populations either through outreach, special programs, collaborations with other libraries or organizations, special classes, special collections, etc.
▪ Enhanced service to the public during the past year either through increase in service or a change in type of services.
▪ Current marketing materials highlighting basic services and publicity about specific programs the library offers.
▪ Developing a set of policies and procedures for the library which have been reviewed and updated within the past five years.
▪ Providing cultural, topical and educational programming for adults and families.
▪ Providing literacy support for all ages.
▪ Investing in collaborative efforts.
▪ Establishing professional staff training to include training opportunities for staff at all levels.
▪ Providing a library web presence either through the city or with the library’s own website.
This is the first time for the Weatherford Library to receive this award.
"Every library that receives this award is recognized as an innovator that provides its community with outstanding service. Weatherford Public Library puts a particular emphasis on customer service," Library Director Chris Accardo said. "That means some simple things, like a friendly greeting when you walk through the front door, but it also means that we will do everything in our capabilities to satisfy a user’s library needs.
"I have received multiple communications and comments on social media stating that staff have made efforts 'above and beyond' to help people find what they need. I am sure the other libraries that receive the award have good customer service, but we want to have the best customer service anywhere."
The library counted 136,199 visitors for its last fiscal year (2015-16), Accardo said. It sponsored 448 events attended by 18,728 people.
"We are well on track to significantly top that this year. We also make our meeting rooms available for non-profit events that are free and open to the public," he said. "We provided space for 274 of those events, with an attendance of 4,402."
Including the physical collection (books, DVDs, and audiobooks) and downloadable media (eBooks, eAudio, and eMagazines), visitors checked out 347,241 items last year.
Accardo said preschool story times are the most popular events. For the teens, the library has great attendance at after-school gaming events.
"We have been surprised at the degree to which teens embrace tabletop games over video games," he said. "Our events for adults have been gaining popularity, especially the educational events with a DIY (do-it-yourself) component.
"We planned an event on making a terrarium for succulents this summer, and it was completely filled within a few days, so we added another one - and that one was quickly booked up as well."
Accardo said the library recently started teaming with local businesses for off-site events, such as Trivia Night at Antebellum Ale House, which he labeled a "smashing success."
"The last one in May had around 120 people attend," he said. "One of the major services the library provides is connecting people to information, but we like to say on Trivia Night that it’s the one time we won’t help you find the answers."
The new fiscal year begins Oct. 1. However, Accardo said events are scheduled year-round.
"Rachel Reeves, our community and events librarian, has started putting together quarterly event guides and the next one covers September to November. There is so much in there, I can’t list everything. We have at least one library-sponsored event scheduled nearly every day," he said.
The list of programs includes regular story times on Wednesdays and Fridays; teen programs on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays; Anime and Manga Club; WPL Tribe (arts, crafts, and design); Gamers’ Circle; Teen Writer’s Group; and the book club Ex Libris.
Highlights of adult events include two book discussions that are part of Read Across Texas, a community health workshop in partnership with the UNT Health Science Center; a home beer brewing class, and - just in time for Halloween - a presentation on paranormal research.
Calendars are available in the library, at Weatherford City Hall and other selected spots around town, or online at http://weatherfordtx.gov/library.
"I applied for the award so that everyone would know how hard their library staff works every day to provide top-quality service, and it was really to acknowledge those efforts," Accardo said. "Everyone who works for the library brings their A game every single day, and I want them to know that I see that and also how much I appreciate what they do for the community."
Several staff members were in attendance when the award was presented at a recent city council meeting.
Accardo said the award is simply proof that the Weatherford Library has something to offer everyone. He proudly says the services compare favorably to any library in the Metroplex - or state.
"If you haven’t been using the library, stop in and see us," he said. "You’ll be surprised. If you have been using the library, thank you. The support we receive from the community is critical to our success."