Chapter Three: The Library’s Mission
Third in a Series by Mike Whittlesey

A public library was established in La Porte City for the purpose of providing area residents access to books and other resources and services for information, continuing education, and recreation. The library seeks to build knowledge, understanding, appreciation, and wisdom in those it serves. The mission of the Hawkins Memorial Library Board of Trustees and staff is based on a number of values that serve as the framework for the services the library provides. They include:
1. Be Accessible to everyone.
Hawkins Memorial Library is open 33 hours each week: Monday 8 AM – 4 PM; Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, 1 – 6 PM; Wednesday, 1-7 PM and Saturday 9 AM – 1 PM. While budget constraints limit the number of hours patrons have access to the physical building, technology makes it possible for the library to serve the public online, 24/7, at www.laportecity.lib.ia.us. While online, patrons can search the library’s catalog of materials and conduct research using several tools available on the library website.
2. Focus on the patrons and their needs. Provide the best possible service.
Making materials and information available to its patrons is not limited to just checking out books and DVDs. It can be argued that the programs Hawkins Memorial Library offers are the most valuable service it provides to the public. Each year, the library develops and presents special programs based specifically on the needs and interests of the community it serves (see sidebar).
This effort has not gone unnoticed. In 2014, Hawkins Memorial Library earned state accreditation at the highest possible level, ensuring the library will receive the maximum amount of funding the state provides for libraries for the next three years.
3. Provide free and equal access to all materials, information and ideas.
In this day and age when it seems everyone has a smart phone and access to social media, Hawkins Memorial Library is the only location in La Porte City that offers free wi-fi the public is encouraged to use.
In La Porte City, free access to materials is not limited only to the ones that can be found at 308 Main Street. Last year, nearly 12,000 books were entered into the State InterLibrary Loan (ILL) System. Can’t find the book you’re looking for in La Porte City? An ILL request will help locate libraries in the state who will loan you a copy free of charge.
The value of free access to materials and information can also be expressed in dollars and cents. In the past twelve months, patrons borrowing materials from Hawkins Memorial Library saved over $400,000, the price they would have paid had they purchased those materials outright.
4. Practice intellectual freedom and confidentiality
The concept of intellectual freedom can be expressed as the freedom to hold, receive and share ideas without restriction. It is an important component of a democratic society. At Hawkins Memorial Library, the right to freedom of opinion and expression is clearly evident in the policies the library has in place. One example of this is the library’s policy addressing the use of public computers. Another is the procedures that will be followed if a request is made to remove a book from the library’s collection.
5. Value our youth as the future of our library
Evidence of the library’s commitment to youth and its desire to develop life-long readers is best illustrated by the Preschool Story Time program, offered each week between the months of September and May. Last year, 33 Story Time sessions in La Porte City attracted nearly 1,000 participants.
When school is not in session, the library also serves area youth with its Summer Reading Program. In 2014, eight Summer Reading sessions drew 335 attendants.

2013-14 Library Programs

For more information about programs at Hawkins Memorial Library, call 342-3025.
BOOKS/DISCUSSION PROGRAMS
Local Author Booktalks – Janice Abel, Cindy Gross and Linda McCann
Kids’ Wild About Books – monthly book club for students 4th grade and up
Book Discussion Group for Adults
Blind Date with a Book
Get Lucky with a Book

YOUTH PROGRAMS
Preschool Story Time
Curious Science Detectives
Succeeding at Reading
Fizz, Boom, Read! Summer Reading Program
Hands-On Crafts

COMMUNITY OUTREACH/EDUCATION
Monday Morning Coffee Group
Fellowship of Christian Athletes
Holiday Mail for Heroes
Hawkins’ Handcrafters
Food for Fines
Union High Jazz Band Concert
Union Carolers Performance
Movies at the Library
Dash for the Stash
Basic Windows Computing
NEIBORS for the Nook