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Patrons pack Madison Public Library as even more options added

In their own nook, teenagers gather at Madison Public Library to study and engage in creative sessions. (CONTRIBUTED)
In their own nook, teenagers gather at Madison Public Library to study and engage in creative sessions. (CONTRIBUTED)

MADISON – In the early 1800s, Thomas Jefferson wrote “nothing would do more extensive good at small expense than the establishment of a small circulating library in every county …” Tom would be happy with the diverse activities and unprecedented traffic at Madison Public Library.

Branch manager Sarah Sledge said today’s public libraries “are about more than just books. We are community centers — sources of knowledge, arts and culture.”

In fiscal year 2102, the library’s collection included 84,300 items. “We circulated 572,913 items in FY 2012,” Sledge said. In 15,000 square feet, the library hosted 43,672 people on 17 computers, while welcoming 245,346 visitors during 3,328 hours of operation.

From 1997 to 2012, circulation increased by 290 percent. Madison’s population increased by 79 percent.

The library staff presented 526 programs to 23,147 people and answered more than 40,000 reference questions. Librarians registered 4,310 new cards and served more than 32,000 cardholders.

In its record-breaking summer of 2012, more than 6,500 children and teens attended 100 programs. In summer reading activities, 788 children, 170 teens and more than 150 adults participated.

The library carries at least 10 copies of all titles on required summer reading lists for Madison’s four secondary schools. “We topped our highest monthly volume by 5,000 items circulated in July 2012 with 57,127 total,” Sledge said.

In its first year, the Madison Children’s Garden opened ‘get-your-hands-dirty’ learning in an outside setting. Six weekly story times nurture early literacy, while elementary students enjoy Junior Readers sessions. Teenagers have their own nook for study and gathering.

The library’s DVD inventory is Madison County’s largest with 10,739 titles. Six book groups for adults meet monthly. Staff librarians host sessions in arts and crafts, such as painting and knitting.

Madison Mega Marathon challenged competitive readers online. The goodreads.com initiative had more than 200 members. Patrons can check out ebooks from home with Overdrive, BookFlix, Axis 360 and Freading.

“Visit Madison PublicLibrary to see what we do to make Madison a great place to live and work,” Sledge said.

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