Friday, January 25, 2008

Turn and face the strain...

Our good neighbors at the Neenah Public Library got a nice article in yesterday's paper about changes in usage patterns as seen in annual circulation numbers. My immediate reaction was how universal some of the trends seemed: if you change the exact numbers and a few proper names, the article would have been true of many libraries, and certainly ours.

The last sentence grabbed me: "...library staff has been able to keep pace with the growth in circulation though the help of volunteers and self-checkout machines..." -- yep, that's us, too, spot on.

But it occurred that we should look at specific numbers to see where we were alike and different -- and thank about why. Neenah's growth in circulation was 52,422 -- the largest increase in their five countypublic library system. Our growth at APL was 79,173, but we're a larger library, so it might be more useful to compare percentage changes.

Circulation comparison, % changes 2006-7:

Interesting stuff... more of our growth is coming in books, CDs, books on CD and magazines. Some of the differences may have to do with how the two libraries have implemented format changes in their collections. I know that we've been trying to grow our books on CD collection, and the numbers reflect that. We also finished bar-coding all our magazines, and while that's not a big number for us, it's probably more accurate now than previously.

But just like in Neenah, people like our video collection for the wide-ranging selections not found in video stores, and we're also pushing books and literacy.