Posted November 23, 2007With all due respect to Debra Cronmiller, who does wonderful work with the homeless in our community, if you're making $100,00 a year and going to Barnes & Noble, you're probably still going to the library. There's no doubt that poor people have fewer choices and are thus in some ways more dependent on public libraries. But there's lots of stuff that even people of means will not find in a bookstore or online.
Appleton, Neenah libraries see big circulation increases
By Ben Jones
Post-Crescent Madison bureau chief
MADISON — A slow economy could be the catalyst of a boom at some Fox Valley libraries.
Circulation at the Appleton Public Library rose more than 10 percent last year to 1.3 million items circulated, according to the state Department of Public Instruction.
Terry Dawson, the library's director, said there are probably many factors contributing to the increase, but a slightly slowing economy could explain part of the increase.
"People use libraries rather than buying books (and) people that can't afford to buy books are more reliant on the library for books and other media," Dawson said.
Dawson said other factors also could be driving circulation. He said the publishing business is booming and, locally, people pick up books while they are in the library for other events and meetings.
Dawson said circulation is up among different types of materials.
"It's not just adult materials, not just children's materials, we've seen increases in both of those," he said. "It's not just media, although it is rising quickly, it's also books, we are circulating more books than ever before."
Dawson said that in general, Fox Valley libraries are doing well. Circulation varies among area Fox Valley libraries, although state statistics show Kaukauna, New London and Oshkosh libraries saw small circulation declines.
In Neenah, the public library's circulation grew by more than 8 percent last year and is up another 8 percent this year, Director Stephen Proces said.
"We have at least 750 people a day in here," he said. "It's a good cross-section of the community."
Debra Cronmiller, executive director of the Community Shelter of the Fox Valley, said libraries mean more to low-income people than people with greater means.
"If you are making $100,000 a year, you are probably still going to Barnes & Noble," she said.
Dawson said circulation increases are good news for libraries. "It's the first law of library science," he said. "Books are for use.