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Hamden Libraries Measure Impact with Snapshot

"Snapshot Day" captures community use of their facilities with a single day of statistics.

Shelves upon shelves of books from all genres sit quietly, waiting for curious readers to choose them from their resting place.

As Joseph Colomonico peruses the non-fiction section of Miller Memorial Central Library, he reaches for a book about the Revolutionary War. The plastic book cover crinkles in familiar way as he opens to chapter one and skims the first few pages.

Colomonico, a retired North Haven resident, is a regular visitor at the Miller Memorial Central Library in Hamden.

“This one looks good,” he said, glancing down to the book he just pulled from the shelf. “But I’ve just read too many about the Revolutionary War.”

Colomonico started coming to Miller Memorial for the magazine swap, a table where people donate and borrow recent issues of magazines. He said he noticed that Miller Memorial had a more varied book collection because it is a larger library.

Colomonico was just one of many who used the library on April 13, during the second annual Snapshot Day. Snapshot Day is a statewide project that collects data about library use and encourages library staff and patrons to submit testimonials about why the library is important to them, according to the website. The project is sponsored by the Connecticut Library Association, the Connecticut State Library and the Connecticut Library Consortium.

The first Snapshot Day was held Feb. 18 of last year. They found that in 136 libraries across Connecticut about 80,000 people walked through the doors,almost 10,000 books, movies and DVDs were borrowed and about 9,500 reference questions were answered.

Nancy McNicol, associate director of Miller Memorial Central Library, believes that a snapshot of a single day has a stronger impact and is easier for people to relate to than the yearly statistics and numbers they normally report.

“A lot of people drive by the building and have an image of a bunch of dusty books. They haven’t experienced it themselves,” McNicol said.

According to McNicol, the statistics help the library to understand how people are using their facility so they can improve the resources that are used the most. She also hopes that these statistics will show everyone that the library is more than just a collection of old books.

“[The library] is just for everything at this point; meeting other people, exchanging ideas, using the computers and the books and the magazines and the DVDs. Its just a way to save money while getting together with people with similar interests and meet people you might not have met any other way,” she said.

The wide variety of people is evident. A middle-aged man sits reading a newspaper in a leather chair in the lobby. Two young boys bounce up and down as they excitedly lead their father to the Friends of the Hamden Library Room for an afternoon craft. A high school student uses the computer with her mother to fill out forms for college. Two retired women sit at a table sharing the latest gossip and a graduate student is tucked in a nook studying for an exam.

The numbers for this year’s Snapshot Day will not be available until April 27. They will show how many people entered the library, how many books, movies and more were borrowed, how many new borrowers were registered, how many people used the computers, how many reference questions were answered and how many people attended the available classes and programs at the library in a single day.

R May 01, 2011 at 05:51 PM
The Miller Library is inhospitable and non-user friendly. I travel to the Russell Library in Middletown to borrow books. The staff members there are warm and welcoming, the hours are better, the reading room is lovely and quaint, and their rules are flexible and accommodating. Their overdue fines are reasonable and their online renewal policies are kinder and gentler than Miller's.
Kirsten M. Walker May 02, 2011 at 12:52 AM
Are you talking about the same Miller library that my family and I have enjoyed and gleaned so much from for the past 25 years? I'm sure if you joined the Friends of the Library, I'm sure they would welcome your corrective criticism and your energy to make it a better place. If you are not a part of the solution then you are a part of the problem my father-in-law always says.
Kathleen Ramunni May 02, 2011 at 06:06 PM
I've been going to Miller for decades and it's the best library I've used. At some point in my career I've covered just about every community in southern New Haven County and northern Fairfield County and Hamden's libraries are far superior to any I've seen in any of those cities and towns.

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