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Annual Report

To our community, 

Thank you for taking the time to read our annual report and escape into our story for a few minutes. The last year has been full of unexpected surprises and some cliff-hangers at the ends of chapters! We’re not sure what genre you’d classify our story of the last year: part tragedy, part adventure, sometimes science fiction, and thankfully some humor, too.

It’s hard to even begin a letter that’s supposed to encompass what the library accomplished in the last year. The story of our fiscal year 2021 started with a natural disaster and ended in a continued global pandemic.

Thankfully the setting isn’t the only thing that makes a story: it’s the characters and the plot that move us forward. Our fabulous cast of staff members and volunteers has written a true success story: we helped people despite it all. We’ve written and rewritten the library’s story in FY21, changing service levels, adding a new Mobile Technology Lab, turning student IDs into library cards, supporting the community after disaster, and working to improve our internal practices.

We had fewer characters in FY21. For much of the year we had limitations in place to ensure the safety of our staff and patrons. That meant we just didn’t see as many people. But still, over 125,000 people came through our doors. We worked hard to find ways to connect to people outside our doors. We made sure to be where our community needed us, and in this report you’ll find more detailed information on how we leveraged our strategic pillars of Literacy, Access, and Inclusion to serve our community like never before.

Of course, sometimes the help we offered was as simple as a good book (or movie, or song, or article). Our resources helped people get away from it all for a few minutes or a few hours. It is no small thing to offer people moments of enjoyment and relaxation during very challenging times.

It has sometimes felt like being in an epic tale in just one year, but really the last year is only one chapter in our institution’s ongoing story of service. Next year will be the 125th anniversary of the Cedar Rapids Public Library. Our FY21 was one year in many of the Library supporting the community, regardless of what happens. We will continue to reflect the changing needs of our community with both innovative services and the basics. We are here for you no matter what happens when we turn the page.

Dara Schmidt