April 30 marked a momentous occasion for Shoreline Community College’s Ray W. Howard Library. Just before 10 a.m., the five millionth person walked through the library doors since it installed gate counters in 2002.
The library first opened back in 1965, meaning the actual number of customers served is far higher, but it’s fitting that the gate counters marked number five million in the year the college is celebrating its 50th anniversary.
Chris Matz, the library’s Director, said “the numbers are humbling because it means we’ve touched a lot of lives. But,” he added, “I can tell you on behalf of my entire staff that those customers have touched our lives as well. We are all better off for having served every single one of those people, as they teach us new ways to improve what we do every single day.”
Matz went on to say that, while the library’s staff is excited about having reached such an impressive milestone, reaching the five million marker isn’t what’s most important. Rather, he and his staff want to continue to focus on helping each individual who uses the library as a resource.
“We are building a relationship of trust here that enables anyone on campus or in the Shoreline community at large to walk through those doors and ask for help. We’re here to provide them resources in a way that gives them the confidence to ask even more questions and to keep coming back to learn more.”
In the coming months, the library will become even more of a resource for the campus community, as several of the learning and tutoring centers will be moved to the library to serve as a nexus for student learning and success.
“The melding of the library with the various learning centers across campus is such a natural progression,” Matz said. “It will give us the ability to make more effective referrals for students and the potential for cross-departmental synergy with the centralization of the learning centers is through the roof.”
Creating a nexus of learning on campus is “all about helping the student,” he said. And the move means the library’s next milestone likely won’t be 13 years in the making. “The turnstile is going to be spinning off its axis,” Matz said. “By turning the library into even more of a destination than it already is, we’ll reach 10 million customers served in no time.”
The impressive numbers the library clocks are just proof of its continued vitality in this information age.
“When they come through the door it’s a marker of our appeal,” Matz said. “The best resource we have is the people who work here: we know things, we know the history of the college, we know the community, we know how to find things and we know how to teach people the skills they need to perform well in classes. Are libraries still important? Five million people think so.”
But it’s not just the library’s celebration, Matz said. “If the library has served five million people, think of all the other people who’ve visited campus as well. The entire college should be proud of this milestone.”
The library’s staff will celebrate reaching the five millionth customer marker with cake at 11 a.m. on Fri., May 1. All are welcome to swing by the library and enjoy a slice.