Message to the community from Luren E. Dickinson:
Recently, Ohio was mocked as the “nerdiest state in America.” Why? Because Ohioans visit libraries more often than residents of any other state! Being the most frequent users of libraries should make Ohioans proud -- and we at Shaker Library are happy that we have contributed to the “nerdiness” of our part of the state with one of the highest per capita usage rates for communities our size or larger in the country!
Although the new census figures have yet to be released, we can be fairly certain, based up current population estimates, that Shaker Heights residents continue to check out more than 40 items from the library each year on a per capita basis. That is over 160 items for a typical family of four annually.
The total of 1,252,740 items that our customers borrowed in 2010 was quite respectable considering that we were closed on four furlough days, had fewer copies of in-demand best sellers due to our reduced budget, and were closed on seven Sundays because of additional cuts. And, due to inclement weather, we had more snow closures than average. Extra days closed alone would account for about a 5% decrease. Our actual decline of 7% can then be attributed to the funding-related closings and the lower levels of multiple copies for the most in-demand titles. Interestingly, foot traffic was down only 3% in 2010 over the previous year.
As in the past, the big growth area continues to be in the use of public computers for access to various types of software and the Internet. Students complete homework assignments, people search for new jobs, and folks pay bills online as more and more of us rely on electronic forms of communication. Overall, the number of computer sessions increased 13% in 2010 with a total of 140,796 total sessions—an all-time record for the Shaker Library! Is it any wonder that we are renovating the second floor of our Main Library to create a much larger Computer Center and a Training Lab twice the size of our current facility?
In the race between print and non-print materials, books actually gained lost ground. Both categories accounted for 50% of the material borrowed. Videos alone accounted for 38% of the non-print category. In general, video circulation has fallen faster than other categories for the past few years; however, we did experience monthly increases in November and December following a change in our policy that lifted restrictions on the number of videos that could be borrowed.
Downloadable media appears to be the biggest growth area for the future. While the numbers are still small, more and more people are buying portable devices for downloading music, ebooks, audiobooks, and movies. While downloaded items made up only 0.6% of our total circulation in 2010, those 8,193 downloads represented a 43% increase over 2009. At that pace, we can expect to see significantly increased percentages of our overall use coming from downloadable media.
February may be the shortest calendar month, but it always seems the longest because most of us are tired of dealing with the ice and snow. We hope to warm up your winter with some interesting programs this month. Some program highlights this month include a program on How to Buy a Car in the Digital Age with Paul Qua at 7 p.m. Wednesday, February 9. Friends of the Shaker Library and the Shaker Historical Society welcome Anita Sanchez, author of Mr. Lincoln’s Chair: The Shakers and Their Quest for Peace, to a Reception and Author Talk at the Shaker Historical Society at 6:30 p.m. Friday February 11. Sanchez will present a special “Making History” program for families at 2 p.m. Saturday, February 12 at Bertram Woods Branch – on Abraham Lincoln’s birthday! Whether you’re seeking tax advice or a way to entertain the children, Shaker Library offers something for everyone. Check out our calendar of events and enjoy a “nerd’s night out” at the library!
Photo credit: Caydie Heller