If you've ever tried your hand at gardening in Central Oregon, you are familiar with the itch to get seeds and starts planted even if the weather isn't quite ready to cooperate. It's budget season for the county and as I consider line items, revenues and expenditures, the gardening metaphor feels appropriate.
Budget planning last year meant forecasting out to a time when the darkest days of the pandemic would be behind us. I anticipated an increase in spending as our librarians began to get back to the work of outreach and in-person programming.
Those seeds of hope led to a strong return of library services in 2021 and 2022. We've been able to resume visiting area day cares and preschool programs, rotating deliveries of book boxes and providing story times. Thanks to school library partnerships, we have outreach programs in the middle and high schools, bringing fun activities and general library love to teens. Students at Steins Pillar Elementary visit us each month to learn about the library and check out books. We've started a new monthly book club at the library for adults and continue to see our checkout statistics rise.
Planning for fiscal year 2023, we are excited to continue growing. As spring flowers bloom, we eagerly anticipate the arrival of new faces to the library, having recently completed hiring for two formerly vacant positions. The library was able to attract both local and national talent for our openings, and we are excited to welcome our new teammates. Be sure to say hello to Shelby Kittleson, who you'll find working behind the information desk. Shelby impressed us with her approaches to excellent customer service, her obvious kindness and her great sense of humor. Later in May, Sean Briscoe will join the library as our new Public Services Manager. Sean comes to Crook County with rural library experience, excellent project management skills and a commitment to serving our entire community, whether in the library or through outreach.
On your next visit to the library, you'll notice a fun new addition to the flowerbed directly in front of the main entrance; thanks to the Crook County Foundation, we now host a piece of public art created by Bend metals artist, Kellen Bateham. It will be fun to watch how our plantings grow in and around the twisting components of the steel salmon. Moving into a season of growth and renewal feels wonderful, and we look forward to serving you soon.
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