Archive for Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Lawrence Public Library sees dramatic increase in demand

Len Hanson, of Lawrence, browses the shelves Wednesday at the Lawrence Public Library, 707 Vt. The library reports a dramatic upsurge in patrons in the past year, possibly as a result of the national economic crisis.

Len Hanson, of Lawrence, browses the shelves Wednesday at the Lawrence Public Library, 707 Vt. The library reports a dramatic upsurge in patrons in the past year, possibly as a result of the national economic crisis.

February 25, 2009


On the street

Have you used the Lawrence Public Library in the past year?

No. I buy my books. I like to keep them.

More responses

Library business booming

The Lawrence Public Library has seen an extraordinary increase in users. Enlarge video

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Library Use

Total circulation (2007) - 1,099,444; Total circulation (2008) - 1,230,286; 12 percent increase

Library Web site visits (2007) - 158,932; Library Web site visits (2008) - 184,852; 16 percent increase

Registered borrowers (2007) - 72,972; Registered borrowers (2008) - 76,430; 5 percent increase

The Lawrence Public Library is recording an “extraordinary” increase in the number of people using the facility and the number of items being checked out, the city’s chief library official said.

“Numbers are headed up,” said Bruce Flanders, library director. “They’re in a rapidly ascending trajectory.”

More than 1.2 million items were circulated last year, or more than 3,000 items a day, marking a 12 percent increase over 2007. The library also recorded a 5 percent increase in the number of registered library users, a number that stood at 76,430 at the end of 2008.

An increase in use is nothing new for the library, which has seen growth each of the last 11 years. But the size of the increase is what’s catching the officials’ attention.

Flanders said the tight economy is partially responsible for the increased interest in the library, 707 Vt.

“The public library is being seen … as a real bargain,” he said.

That’s the case for Michael Slavin, a registered library user from Baldwin City. He said he’s saving $25 a month by doing genealogy research at the library using a computer program provided free of charge.

Faith Greenwood, of Lawrence, said she visits the library occasionally and stocks up on books, instead of buying them elsewhere.

“You go and try to buy a book and they’re very expensive,” Greenwood said. “So, it’s fun to come to the library.”

But Flanders said use is also increasing because of library outreach efforts such as offering educational services to children and teens.

On Tuesday morning, a storyteller attracted dozens of youngsters to the library to hear stories.

“I love to go to the library with the kids,” said Els Van de Liefvoort, a frequent library user.

Library leaders have lobbied for a new building, a larger staff and a budget increase. But as economic reality sets in, Flanders and his staff of 55 full-time workers are seeking ways to do more with less.

“We recognize we’re going to have limited funding at the library,” he said.

Library officials are working to have a more focused collection, by weeding out items that people aren’t interested in.

The library spends about 15 percent of its budget, or about $500,000, on new materials each year.


volunteer 8 years, 10 months ago

"Items" being checked out. (Videos?)

What is the stat on books being checked out?

Richard Heckler 8 years, 10 months ago

I say expand over the parking lot and come up with several thousand more sq ft.

We do books and videos frequently. Also donate to the book sale material.

In house summertime movies at the library are fun as well. Consumer Reports are a valuable asset as well.

Ryan Wood 8 years, 10 months ago

As soon as the economy went south, I stopped buying books and started going to the library more. This doesn't surprise me.

somebodynew 8 years, 10 months ago

Yeah, let me guess - this is just a precursor for an article in a day or two that starts the "build a new library" campaign again.

RoeDapple 8 years, 10 months ago

Thank you hawk, That's a quote worthy of saving.


1029 8 years, 10 months ago

I checked out books from the library every week or two for almost two years. Then one summer I forgot to return a couple of books before I went on vacation for a couple of weeks. I returned them 30-something days late (no body was waiting for either of these books as there were always several copies of both on the shelves). I was busy reading other things and didn't check out books for about a month. The next time I went to the library, I went to check out some books and told them I also had to pay a fine. I thought it was going to be $6--$3/book for a full month late. The librarian said I owed $26 because of a "collection fee". Now, I can't borrow books unless I take that little sensor out first. Oh well, at least there's no due date. I used to love the library.

not_dolph 8 years, 10 months ago

Perhpas there is a surge in library activity because the library over in Topeka has shelved sex books behind the counter, and they are readily available in ours. The Topukans are coming over here to read our sex books. Just a thought.

Kelly Cline 8 years, 10 months ago

I love the library, but due to the cost of late fees and my procrastination issues, I find its best to buy my books. I have found that I can go to Half Price Books on 23rd street and find lots of books for $1 or $2. They have a great clearance section that is updated all the time. A good place to go in these tough economic times.

think_about_it 8 years, 10 months ago

Seems to me that the increase is in direct correlation with our increase of homeless people. DUDE, I bet waka got his shiny new library card too.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 10 months ago

1029-- Just pay the $26. Even after doing so, if you're really using the library as much as you say, it's still a bargain-- and the $26 will likely just be used to buy more materials.

lawthing 8 years, 10 months ago

a lot of businesses have seen an increase of customers because of the fact its tax refund season. This doesn't mean the trend will continue.

I am suspicious------Why did the increase in business at the Library merit a story?

I personally still do not want my tax dollars being put into building a bigger library, expecially if it means a tax increase.

pool_playa 8 years, 10 months ago

I am happy with library! All we need is more collaboration / exchange of materials with Johnson County libraries so that they can save on cost of books and electronic media. The audio books / music download system is fantastic!

spankyandcranky 8 years, 10 months ago

I've been checking out more DVDs there lately, since I seem to not have as much spare money to rent them. I have to look a little longer to find something I want to watch, but the price is right. Even if I'm a few days late, it's still cheaper than renting. It's my personal opinion that they should expand their hours on Saturday. It seems to be their busiest day and they're only open from 2pm-6pm on a day that most people have more spare time to utilize the building ... and they're not open at all on Sunday. If they're going to be closed on one weekend day, they should be open more than 4 hours on the other one.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 10 months ago


You're misinformed about library hours.

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