The Esther D. Nixon Library in Jacksonville saw increased usage by the public in 2012 than in previous years.

According to a report given to the Jacksonville City Council recently, there were nearly 2,400 new user accounts created last year.

"We circulated nearly 226,000 items in 2012 (an increase of over 6,700 from 2011) and attendance was up more than 4,100 with approximately 147,000 users visiting our facility in 2012," according to the report. Those using our desktop and laptop computers totaled just short of 22,000."

The Nixon library has six personal computers and 15 laptops. Computer usage increased by more than 1,000 usages from 2011.

"We also provide free wireless service to patrons but have no way of gathering usage statistics for that," according to the report.

The library’s meeting room was provided to VITA, which is a group also known as Volunteers in Tax Assistance, which provided free tax assistance/filing to hundreds of area residents.

"Our youth programmers conducted approximately 6-8 programs per week throughout the year for age groups ranging from infants through late teens," according to the report. "We had our annual summer reading club for hundreds of children where we had games, prizes, entertainment and all types of learning opportunities. Nearly 5,000 children and teens attended our programs this past year."

The library’s programs for adults continued to expand in 2012.

"In 2012, the number of programs went up to nearly 130 and we saw nearly 2,300 people participate," states the report. "We now have two monthly book discussion groups (one strictly non-fiction) as well as monthly "Learn to Crochet" and "Learn to Knit" meetings."

The library recently began a new "Learn to Sew" program as well.

"For each, we purchased several new portable sewing machines," the council was told. "We held several concerts this year as well as a used book sale in late September. We also continued to make good use of our movie license and show new release DVDs. Attendance is free and we provided popcorn and lemonade at many screenings."

The report states the movie program had as many as 80 attendees of all ages at some point of the shows.

"We have been able to reach out to serve Jacksonville citizens both young and old with programs that are both entertaining and educational," according to the report.

The Nixon library will continue to provide programs besides its traditional role of being a resource for books.

"Though we provide many of those (books), we also offer free internet access and printing (10 cents a sheet), databases, periodicals, newspapers, audio CDs, DVDs, large print materials, interlibrary loan services, copier and fax services, typewriter notary, document delivery, voter registration, public meeting room, public display space, flood plain management collection, partial repository of EPA documents pertaining to the Vertac Superfund Site, selected documents from LRAFB, and even fishing poles available for checkout," according to the report.

One of the most popular services the library provides the library offers is free downloadable audio/e-books from OverDrive. Many patrons with new e-readers have been taking advantage of these opportunities.

"We have been able to purchase a Kindle e-reader and Nook Color e-reader so that staff can gain hands-on experience as to how to use the devices and better assist patrons with there downloads," states the report.

The public meeting room continues to be very popular for meetings and parties.

"Over 100 groups/individuals scheduled events in it in 2012, thus serving a total of 2,300 attendees," according to the report. "Our individual study carrels are also more popular than ever with approximately 2,800 patrons using them this past year."

In 2010, the library converted to a Radio Frequency Identification system and implemented a self-check system.

"Statistics continue to show that approximately 40 percent of our patrons are using self-check services routinely," states the report. "The response has been overwhelmingly positive and people continue to enjoy learning about the new technology."

The report indicates that the Nixon Library is looking forward to what the rest of 2013 will bring.

"We look forward to 2013 as a year that we’ll be able to continue to offer a wide variety of free educational and entertaining programs for our patrons and continue to grow in the areas of attendance and material circulation," states the report. "As mentioned in last year’s report, the installation of security cameras in both the interior and exterior areas of the facility has been an excellent aid in deterring vandalism and problem behavior. As we approach the end of our fourth year here on the new grounds, we remain very busy and receptive to new ideas of how we can best serve the public."