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Introducing the Fife Community to its First Library

Pierce County Library System
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Innovation Summary

In anticipation of opening the first public library in the City of Fife, PCLS developed an outreach program to introduce community members, especially immigrants and speakers of English as second language, to library services and welcome them to their new library.

Innovation Leader: Sally Porter Smith, Customer Experience Director, sportersmith@piercecountylibrary.org

Problem Statement

Pierce County Library System was planning to open a 6,000 sq. ft. branch in the Fife community. This was the first time in its history that Fife had a public library. Fife is a community of approximately 8,400 people. A large percentage of the community is foreign-born or speaks English as a second language, mostly residing in apartments spread throughout the community. 17.5% of the population is Hispanic. 19.3% Asian. 31.5% of population speaks a language other than English at home. 23.5% of the population is foreign-born and of that, 65.7% are not citizens of the United States. The library is located on former Puyallup Tribe of Indians land and 4.8% of the Fife population is Native American. The library wanted to ensure that these populations felt welcomed in the new library and used its services.

Innovation

The Outreach department instituted targeted outreach to various segments of the community over a two-year period. Spanish and Korean speaking staff attended English as a Second Language classes and local community agencies, taking materials and introducing library services. The library’s bookmobile, with Spanish speaking staff, went to apartment complexes throughout the city, especially those with high densities of Spanish speaking and new immigrant families. The Explorer Bookmobile, which is a special bookmobile designed for children, visited schools and apartments, providing summer programs and library services. Staff built up interest in library services and encouraged families to visit the new library. (Note: The bookmobile and Explorer services ceased when the new library opened.)

Progress

The library opened December 5, 2011. 780 people attended the Grand Opening ceremony. 188 new library cards were issued. 63 individuals with bookmobile library cards also visited and checked out books. The most gratifying aspect of the day was that a large number of the visitors were children, wearing the signature Explorer Bookmobile library card on a rainbow lanyard. After the event, City Manager Dave Zabell thanked the Library. “Last Saturday was a historic day for the residents of Fife… …the residents of Fife have a wonderful library facility set in the near heart of their City. …in my humble option what you accomplished, and the time in which it all came together, is truly impressive, particularly when you consider the constraints on public agencies in developing capital projects. Congratulations to you all.” The Puyallup Tribe approached the library regarding housing a tribal history collection. Alexandria Cole, the Daffodil Festival Princess representing the Puyallup tribal school gave a Storytime at the Fife Library. When she died last week, a tribal representative went to the branch to personally inform staff of the tragedy. Since its opening, this small library has developed a booming business, largely with children. During the first 3 months of 2012, the library circulated approximately 12,700 per month, which is 4.2 per capita checkouts for the service area, as compared to 3.6 per capita system-wide checkouts.