Usage Increases Across Region's Libraries
Great River Regional Library (GRRL) usage saw major increases in 2009:
Checkout sessions increased 15 percent compared to 2008,
Items checked out (total circulation) also increased 15 percent.
The increases continue the upward trend of GRRL library use, which has seen total circulation soar by 41 percent since 2004, from 2.9 million in 2004 to 4.1 million in 2009.
“Five years ago the number of items checked out had not yet broken 3 million,” said GRRL Director Kirsty Smith. “At this rate, it will only take two more years to jump another million.”
Internet service shows even more dramatic growth, from 134,000 patron Internet sessions in 2004 to 264,000 in 2009, a 97 percent increase.
When GRRL first got Internet computers, few households had the Internet, and it was a much-needed service. Today, even though more households have computers, Internet access is so important to individuals it remains an in-demand service, explained Karen Pundsack, Patron Services Coordinator. “It’s even more important in our rural areas where high-speed and wireless are not as accessible. The library is the only wireless hotspot in some of our smaller branch communities.”
GRRL also uses cardholder totals as a measure of business activity. From 2004 to 2009 the number of cardholders grew 17 percent to nearly 134,000 cardholders. During the same period, U.S. Census Bureau estimates show the regional population for Benton, Morrison, Sherburne, Stearns, Todd, and Wright counties increased only 11 percent.
“GRRL is definitely reaching out to more people, and they are using our services more intensively,” said Pundsack. “Every new cardholder means exponentially more business for us. In their pursuit of learning, cardholders borrow materials, need reference assistance, use computers, and attend programs.”