City Council Recap: Annual Update from Library

Lowell City Council met for less than 30 minutes last night as they moved quickly through a short agenda. Mayor Mike DeVore was absent, and the meeting was run by Mayor Pro Tem Marty Chambers. City Manager Mike Burns was also absent from the session.

There were no citizen comments, and the main piece of a business was the Kent District Library Annual Community Report.

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Library Almost Back to Pre-Pandemic Usage Levels

Three representatives of Kent District Library were present for the meeting. Nicole Lintemuth, who represents Lowell on the KDL Board of Directors, began with brief comments about the importance of the library to the community before turning things over to KDL executive director Lance Werner.

“2020 was a tough year for us,” Werner said. With the library forced by the COVID-19 pandemic to move to virtual programming and curbside pick-up for much of the year, usage dropped. However, in 2021, the library saw activity resume at two-thirds of pre-pandemic levels, and in 2022, it picked up to three-fourths of pre-pandemic levels.

One area that has seen explosive growth in the last two years is electronic circulation. Werner said that KDL ranks among the top 60 libraries in the world in terms of the number of e-books checked out. KDL also has about 1,100 Wi-Fi hotspots that it circulates.

In response to the pandemic, KDL also increased its efforts to distribute food to children during the summer months. “We made a huge effort to roll out our food program more robustly,” Werner said.

Sandy Graham, regional manager for the Englehardt and Alto library branches, was next to speak, and she also mentioned the food program. While 2022 numbers are not finalized yet, she noted that the Lowell branch distributed more than $5,000 worth of food during 2021. “This year, we did much more than that,” she added.

Library programs were also well-attended, and Graham shared that 180 people attended an exotic zoo event, which had the largest turnout of any library program ever. Successful events were also held in conjunction with the Lowell Area Historical Museum and Gilda’s Club. The library recently invited the program directors from local senior living communities to attend an event and discuss how the library can provide services to their residents as well.

Graham wrapped up her comments by thanking councilmembers for their support of the library and said, “We love working here.”

Other Agenda Items

There were three other pieces of business on the agenda for the evening:

115 Riverside Drive: Lowell Light and Power General Manager Charlie West was supposed to provide an update on what the LLP Board would like done with its former line shack building. However, West asked that the agenda item be tabled until next meeting. Afterward, he told Lowell’s First Look that he made the request since DeVore was absent, and he thought it would be best to have all councilmembers present for the discussion.

1016 N. Monroe Industrial Development District: The council unanimously passed a resolution that sets a public hearing for the creation of an Industrial Development District at the Atwood property. That public hearing will be held during the Oct. 3 city council meeting.

IT Support Agreement Extension: Councilmembers unanimously approved a $14,562.78 expense to pay for a two-year support agreement for six pieces of Lowell Light & Power equipment.

The meeting adjourned at 7:24pm. The next regular meeting of Lowell City Council will take place on Monday, Oct. 3, at 7pm on the second floor of Lowell City Hall.

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