Guest opinion: Celebrating the Orem Public Library
The Orem Public Library is a treasured gathering place in our community. Many wonderful memories have been created as children checked out their first books, families attended library programs, and school children read their way through summer breaks. My children especially enjoyed the adventure of independently wandering through the bookshelves and choosing their own picture book to read as they sat near the beautiful stained-glass windows.
As the City Council’s liaison to the Library Advisory Commission, I have seen the hard work that goes into making our library such a valuable resource. And as a Council Member, I have become aware of some issues that are sparking division in a place we all know and love.
Let’s start by highlighting what the Orem Public Library was able to accomplish in 2022. There were an average of 1,000 visitors per day, and 1,186,686 items checked out over the year. Nearly 32,000 new items were added to the library’s collection, and the Makerspace was used by 1,440 patrons.
More than 50,000 people attended library programs, and nearly 6,800 patrons participated in the summer reading programs. Based on attendance, the most popular programs last year included the Summer Reading Finale, Provo River Day, Día de Muertos, Summer Reading Escape Room, and Día del Niño.
The building itself has grown as our community’s needs have grown, and the vast collection has kept up with ever-changing media formats. Our City Council approved an increase of about 6% in this fiscal year’s library budget to support those growing needs. We are focused on continually finding ways to make the Orem Public Library a gathering place for our community where everyone feels welcome.
We recently heard from some patrons who wanted the library to return to creating displays for various heritage or diversity months. Earlier discussions on this led to division in the community and interfered with the welcoming environment we strive for. We support city management’s decision to end discontent by eliminating formal displays. We support our librarians’ efforts to showcase a variety of the library’s vast collections.
We appreciate diversity and celebrate unity. Let’s work together to keep our public library the valuable resource it is for our community, rather than pulling it into a political battle where nobody truly wins. Let’s continue to make the library a place everyone can come and enjoy, a place that, with its wealth of resources on communities and cultures, faiths and freedoms, reflects the diverse community we live in. If you haven’t visited the library recently, I recommend you take a look at what’s new and what it can offer you. Our Orem Public Library is truly a magical place.
LaNae Millett is a member of the Orem City Council and liaison to the Library Advisory Commission.