Children get hands on during “The Science of Slime,” presented by the Hernando County Extension Services.
Innovative programming and technological advances landed the Hernando County Public Library system the title of 2013 Florida library of the year.
The award is given out by the Florida Library Association and acknowledges a library system that has “demonstrated outstanding services,” and considers creative and innovative programs, an expansion and enhancement of services offered and leadership qualities in the field.
“They chose us as the best of the best, and we’re very honored,” said Amelia Anderson, outreach services librarian.
Anderson said one of the library’s most significant changes in 2012 was drawing upon community partners to save money and provide entertainment for the record number of youths participating in the summer reading program.
Animal handlers from Weeki Wachee Springs brought Florida-native animals, and Homosassa Springs representatives brought an injured owl and opossum, Anderson said.
Other programs included a guitar clinic, art education by the Spring Hill Art League and story time presented by Kiwanis members.
In past summers, paid entertainment was brought in, and Anderson said the community partners were “budget friendly” and helped highlight the “educational aspect by highlighting books in our collection relating to the program.”
Another important development in 2012 was the library purchasing 24 Kindle e-readers and allowing patrons to check out the devices in two week increments.
“It was kind of a trial run,” Anderson said, explaining that the community has embraced the digital devices that come pre-loaded with different titles and are “just as easy to take out as a book.”
The e-readers were bought with a bequest the library received and each device has a waiting list ready to check it out.
Anderson also said the library has increased the number and type of computer classes offered in the past year, going from offering about five or six computer classes a month to a few classes a day, with more advanced classes to choose from.
The library will be awarded during the Florida Library Association’s 2013 conference in Orlando on May 3.