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More Options

February 16, 2004

A commonplace in describing the modern library is that all the new-fangled stuff has not replaced demand for, or provision of, traditional library service — i.e. print and people.

What is meant by this is that demand has not gone down. Who knows how much it might have risen without so many options for audio and video, not to mention the distractions of the Internet.

But also … who cares? Libraries serve their communities in their time. Library users want access to the Internet and instant information as well as access to books and to the past.

Let’s see what particular library uses have risen: Overall circulation rose again, from 89,935 in 2002 to 95,394 in 2003. Audiobook use rose, but I haven’t filtered out children’s from adult books yet.
Video use rose but only because of addition and use of more children’s videos. However, we will begin the long promised collection of foreign and classic films on DVD this year.
Music CD use climbed, as well, but again the collection grew and changed a lot, so comparison with last year is a tad unfair. At a certain level, supply and demand works both ways in the library world. When smaller libraries grow, their usage naturally rises. After a certain collection size – on the order of 100,000 items, if I remember correctly — that effect dwindles. Our book collection is near 37,000.
Internet use rose by a few percent, but I don’t see much room for growth there. Our supply of nine public Internet computers stay pretty busy.

Magazine circulation climbed a little, too. We crammed a half dozen more subscriptions into our crowded magazine aisle and have plans for maybe a dozen more this year.

Total visits rose by about 13%. However, circulation of children’s books declined last year to 27,113 after leveling off at 28,650 in 2002. Even so, the summer reading program had record attendance again.

Notwithstanding the fact that we have only two-thirds of our district population registered, consider the new ways that the modern library can serve users and possibly draw new ones.

These are options for independence, for using the library in sophisticated ways without librarian mediation. In fact, you don’t even have to be in the library.

You can use magazine, newspaper, and other information databases online from home. The library buys the access; you use them from home for the price of a library card, which is free.

You can use the library catalog from home via the Internet, and now you can once again reserve books through the online catalog. If you’d like to go one step further, you can also renew your books online.

Due to technical difficulties beyond our control (I love that line), you could not place holds on items from home for the last couple of months. Now it’s back, and with renewal ability, too. Tell your friends and family.

The library’s catalog can be reached through our webpage. You’ll see a link to the catalog. Once there, you can log in to your account and see what you have checked out, when the items are due, what fines you might have outstanding.
You can see what hold lists you’re on. If you don’t already have one, you’ll need to add a PIN number to your account next time you’re in the library.

Options can complicate our lives, but they can enrich them, too. We thought we’d give you a few more.

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