Arts & Entertainment Community Education

Gig Harbor library statistics provide a good read on the community

Posted on August 9th, 2023 By:

The Gig Harbor library on Point Fosdick Drive has the most visitors of the 19 branches in the Pierce County Library System. And those visitors checked out more books, movies, magazines and other materials than were checked out from any other library in 2022 – 31,255 to be exact.

That’s according to Mary Getchell, the library system’s marketing director.

The Gig Harbor branch had 128,488 visitors last year. It also had the second-most cardholders in the PCLS system, following closely behind the University Place library. A total of 29,144 people have active cards at the Gig Harbor library. “And behind each card is often an entire family,” Getchell said.

Ezra McGrady, 4, and his mom check out a book at the Gig Harbor Library.

More than books

The local library is about more than just books and magazines. The branch hosts story times for kids; book groups; teen activities like chess clubs, movies and STEAM projects; a scavenger hunt; book sales; art exhibits and more.

There’s often a display of student art, and through the end of August, members of the Gig Harbor Quilters are showing their handcrafted work.

Hundreds of music CDs and movies, including many movies that can be streamed from home via the library’s “Canopy” program. Some older, obscure movies are also available for checkout.

A ukulele group gets together every week to play tunes, and there’s always a jigsaw puzzle on a table to grab a visitor’s attention for a few minute.

A puzzle often is set up on a table in the Gig Harbor library, for anyone to work on as they pass by.

Unique services

Several small, private rooms can be reserved for meetings. A printer and a scanner are available for public use. Patrons can even email their files to the library and pick up printed copies later, interim branch manager Angie Case said.

Card-holders can check out laptops, and staff is always available to answer questions or help find research materials.

“If someone wants a picture of an old Merchant Marine ship in a storm, we can help you find it. We can also help with historical research and genealogy, and card-holders can get books from all over the state and the world through our global network,” Case said.

Students can check out Science-to-Go backpacks. They include grade-appropriate books, worksheets and a journal for recording notes on their experiments.

A small law library offers easily accessible information for the lay person and attorney alike, Case said.

Books can be reserved, then picked up inside the building or at a curbside table outside.

Organized activities 

The library offers a toddler story time with picture books, songs and simple games at 10 a.m. Wednesdays. Kid-oriented art and science activities take place from 10:30 a.m. to noon Saturdays.

A non-fiction book club meets monthly. When school is in session, teen-oriented programs like a chess club, movie nights and STEAM experiments are featured.

Activities also take place away from the branch. For example, every Friday, library staff hosts a family story time for toddlers and preschoolers on the green at the Civic Center.

“We’re sort of the cornerstone that serves all of our community. It’s a safe, non-judgmental place to meet. We’re defenders of intellectual freedom and guarding our patrons’ privacy is a big thing,” Case said.

A kids art show on display at the Gig Harbor Library.

Longtime staff

Several branch staff, like Adult Services Librarian Adam Jackman, are familiar faces. Jackman  has worked at the Gig Harbor branch for 16 years and also fills in at the Key Center branch.

That staff consistency is important.

“We love our jobs, we love to help people and we like having conversations with our patrons. We enjoy talking about books that we’ve read and we can recommend other books that a patron might enjoy,” Jackman said. “Often times, reading a book can help build empathy and understanding that different perspectives aren’t wrong. They’re just different.”

Science to go backpacks can be checked out at the Gig Harbor library.

Lifelong Gig Harbor resident and former city council member Jim Franich is a frequent library visitor. “Just coming to the library is a wonderful option. You never know what new book you’ll find to open your mind about so many different things,” Franich said.

Kids love the library too. Four-year old Ezra McGrady and his mom are regulars. “He’s always excited to come to the library and check out new books,” Katy McGrady said. “It’s so wonderful to have access to this so close and easy to get to.”

“Your library card unlocks a world of learning for the entire family,” Getchel said.

“We’ve even heard people refer to their library card like shopping for free because you can enjoy e-books and current newspapers, plus hands-on learning for all ages and resources to jumpstart your career.

“It’s a permanent ticket to free education and entertainment.”

Gig Harbor library

Address: 4424 Point Fosdick Drive

Phone number: 253-548-3305

Hours: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday; and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday