Benson Memorial Library, Community Building, ebooks, Libraries, Library Director, Technology

When The Circulation Has Gone: Helping Your Community Understand the Worth of the Public Library in the Modern Age

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What’s this that you see above? I call this the Benson Memorial Library circulation scorecard. What this circulation scorecard is doing is keeping track of our overall circulation from January 2010-Present. I could go back even further (we have the records) but I kept it at 2010 for the time being. I use it as guide to see what we’ve done, what we’re doing now, and how it relates to each other. Is our circulation up? Is our circulation down? If either one of these situations is the case, why is that? This scorecard is a nice and handy way to check up on all things related to circulation.

I don’t think that any library’s circulation number should be the number by which the library is judged, ranked, understood, etc. Every library’s circulation number by day, month, or year will first depend on the library that community serves. Is your community one that loves to visit the public library? If so, you can expect your circulation to represent that. In our service area of 14,904 (based on 2016 State Library stats), having 5,269 circulations in the month of September was a good month for us. A total circulation number of 5,269 for one month may look horrible to another library that serves a larger area or it may look shockingly amazing for a smaller area. That number looks just about right for us. This number will look different for everyone. It is up to you at your own level to interpret and understand that number.

As I said above, I don’t think that any library’s circulation number should be the number by which the library is judged or understood, but here’s the kicker. This circulation number is a big deal to a lot of people. To those people, a public library is a place which loans out materials to people in the community. When a person has this belief, the best way they can understand how their public library is doing is to see this number. With that said, yes, the circulation number is an important number for the public library.

But as the world changes and the way we read, watch, and look for information or media moves towards the internet or something digital, our circulation numbers are set to look like they’re decreasing. They are. Let’s face it: people don’t come in and borrow books on how to do things/fix things/research things anymore. They Google it or they go right to YouTube where they can get a step by step video. I’m a librarian, and this is exactly what I do. Why do I do this? Because this is the quickest, easiest, and probably the most efficient way of doing things these days.

So, as the title of this post asks: what do we do when the circulation has gone? If our circulation numbers decrease, we need a different way of sharing the value of the public library with the community. With that said, here are some ideas that I’m having these days.

CIRCULATE OTHER STUFF

This seems to be the big thing of the moment: fishing poles, museum passes, and gadgets galore, libraries are branching out and lending out things that you may not have seen in libraries before. One library in my region, the Oil City (PA) Library is doing just that. They call it the Cool Stuff Collection. Adding these unique items to your collection may draw more people into the library and help boost your circulation.

THE PUBLIC LIBRARY AS AN EVENT SPACE

This is a great one. Public libraries all around the world have amazing spaces, and one of the best ways we can show off that space and bring people into the library is by offering great programs. There are so many libraries out there doing this and I could provide hundreds of examples. Here’s one of them: the Darien Library in Connecticut. Their schedule is always packed full of great programs any day of the week. When a library focuses on public events, the attendance at these programs as well as the number of events held at the space becomes a great statistic to share with your community.

THE DIGITAL STUFF

The digital stuff, most of which is probably offered through your website, is another way to show the value of the library. While they’re no longer all the rage, eBooks are still around and are used by a segment of the population. Showing off the circulation of eBooks can boost your circulation number but it can also be used to show your community the changing nature of how we read.

My favorite “digital stuff” statistic these days is the number of connections we have to our wifi network and the number of logins we’ve had on our public computers. What have I noticed? That our wifi connections are going up while our public computer logins are stagnant or going slightly down. Yes, there is still a very strong need to offer public computer access, but as the cost of devices (laptops/tablets/and the big one, phones) comes down and more people are able to access them, I think we’ll see the public library become more and more of a spot in the community that offers free (and hopefully reliable and safe) wifi for everyone.

The title of this post was inspired by this most excellent jam

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Libraries, Life

An Idea for Coca Cola On How To Support Public Libraries

I had a dream last night that there was a 1 cent tax passed on all sodapop sales and that all money from that tax went to public libraries. When I woke up this idea stuck with me but since then I’ve refined and focused it. Why I chose Coca Cola I have no idea.

The answer? Well here is what the internet told me: (at http://www.statisticbrain.com/coca-cola-company-statistics)

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And how many public libraries are there in the USA? The internet told me this: (at http://www.ala.org/tools/libfactsheets/alalibraryfactsheet01)

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EDIT: I math’d wrong and now I update. Thank you for pointing this out Eli N.

Now I will apply my basic math skills:

If Coca Cola gave  .01 cent of every sales per day (1.8 billion bottles sold per day, 657 billion bottles sold per year), we’d have $6,570,000,000 in the fund.

If Coca Cola then took that$6,570,000,000 dollars in the fund and spread it out over the 119,487 public libraries in the USA, each library would get: (thank you Google)

$54,985.06

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What could a library do with $54,985.06?

That’s a question that every community and their library would have to answer themselves. I know at the Benson Memorial Library I’d love to have that $54,985.06 to start repairs on our building. It was built in 1903 and is a glorious building but…having been built in 1903 there are things that need updated and fixed. They made awesome buildings back then but at the same time they didn’t always do work that would allow these buildings to thrive 113 years later. I’d focus the first few years of the Coca Cola Public Library Fund towards repairing and improving our building. I would fix our groundwater issues and move all groundwater away from our building. Once that was fixed, I would then focus on fixing and revamping our downstairs Community Room. First, our walls would be repaired so that the previous damage from groundwater would no longer be there. Once that was done, the room would get a nice makeover and update to bring it up to date to the standards that our community needs in the 21st Century.

 

 

I will call this idea the Coca Cola Public Library Fund, or we can refer to it by its longer name: An Idea That Has Probably Has Already Been  Presented Somewhere Else And No One Did Anything About It And The Same Thing Will Happen Again But Guess What I Am Gonna Put That Idea Right Here On This Blog.