FLEMINGTON, NJ - Hunterdon County Freeholder Zach Rich recently explained figures projecting patrons’ use of the Hunterdon County Library system, which operates three full-scale branches – the County Library “headquarters” on Rte 12 in Flemington; the North County Branch on Halstead Street in Clinton; and the South County Branch, on Old York Road in East Amwell.
Smaller-scale county libraries with more limited hours are operated at 118 Main Street in Flemington as well as in High Bridge Borough, Lambertville, Milford, Frenchtown, Bunnvale, Readington Township, Three Bridges, Tewksbury and Holland.
“We have a fantastic county library system in Hunterdon County, but we’re always striving to do better,” Rich said. “Our library system conducted and compiled a survey to engage community feedback. This was part of our strategic plan processes, starting from fall 2019, as the county system opened a public online survey process on Nov. 1 and Feb. 2, and in the time frame we recorded 1,135 survey responses.”
He explained that 71 percent of library survey respondents were over 45 years old, and 27 percent were under 44 years old.
Forty percent of survey respondents said they visit or use county library services, resources and programs on a weekly basis, while another 30 percent said they participate about once a month.
The recent survey details that 45 percent of respondents use the Main County Branch (Rt. 12), while 37 percent use the North County Library Branch, with steady rates of usage recorded across the board during library hours of operation. Rich said 30 percent of library survey respondents say they are likely to visit an HCL location on a Saturday, when the North County, South County and headquarters (Rt. 12) branches are each open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Seventy-seven percent of those who took the library survey said they check out fiction reading/viewing materials while 53 percent check out nonfiction. Meanwhile, 58 percent of respondents say they’ll opt for newly published books available at library branches, and 38 percent say they utilize the DVD collection of Hunterdon County Library system.
Twenty percent of survey respondents said they routinely check out biographies or books on CD.
Rich said that 92 percent of survey respondents find the materials and resources they are searching for within HCL, and he added that 43 percent of those surveyed go into the libraries to browse, while 33 percent are visiting the library to pick up an item on hold.
“When we asked people how they learned about the county library system, its offerings, programs and services, 57 percent of the respondents said they learned from flyers posted in the libraries and 50 percent said they learned through looking on the library’s website itself,” Rich said.
As far as customer satisfaction, there was a clear divide.
Of the 1,135 county residents surveyed, about half state they are overwhelmingly happy with the library’s collection, resources and services. Another half said they do not use library services provided.
“It’s one or the other,” Rich said.
The county system’s Flemington Free Public Library is open six days a week, and Flemington has traditionally been a Hunterdon library hub. The county’s central library was first housed in the Historic County Courthouse in Flemington, although it was not open to the public until it was relocated to Spring Street in 1957.
In addition, the county library Bookmobile stops at the Flemington Area Food Pantry every other Tuesday morning from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
For more information on the Hunterdon County Library system, visit hclibrary.us
“I would like to personally thank all those that participated in this survey to let us know what we’re doing well and those items we might want to improve on,” Rich said. “It’s with this positive feedback that the county can ensure that we have our fingers on the pulse of HCL end-users.”
Rich commended Hunterdon County Library Director James Keehbler.
“Mr. Keehbler does a fantastic job, he has an attitude of taking ownership for the library system and he’s fully engaged with our staff and fellow county residents,” Rich said. “They are working hard to try to move the ball forward on items such as library grants, which may or may not go Hunterdon County’s way. Honestly ,James is just such a great guy. Thank yous are in line for you and your staff.”