On the street
No. I buy my books. I like to keep them.
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.