This blog represents most of the newspaper columns (appearing in various Colorado Community Newspapers and Yourhub.com) written by me, James LaRue, during the time in which I was the director of the Douglas County Libraries in Douglas County, Colorado. (Some columns are missing, due to my own filing errors.) This blog covers the time period from April 11, 1990 to January 12, 2012.

Unless I say so, the views expressed here are mine and mine alone. They may be quoted elsewhere, so long as you give attribution. The dates are (at least according my records) the dates of publication in one of the above print newspapers.

The blog archive (web view) is in chronological order. The display of entries, below, seems to be in reverse order, new to old.

All of the mistakes are of course my own responsibility.

Wednesday, January 8, 1992

January 8, 1992 - statistical tidbits

I've just run off some of our 1991 statistics, and wanted to highlight some of the numbers.

For the Douglas Public Library District -- as with much of the county -- it was a year of astonishing growth.

In 1990, the library checked out (or "circulated," as librarians call it) 362,675 items through our computer system at all branches. In 1991, we checked out over half a million (506,253, to be exact) -- an increase of 39.59%.

That's as if everybody in the county (using the 1990 census figure of 60,391) checked out 8.38 books apiece, or about 3 more books per person than last year.

In 1990, we added 6,668 new patrons to our records; in 1991, we registered 9,095 people -- an increase of 36.4%. Part of the reason for that, of course, was the increase in the population of the county. On the other hand, the projected population increase was 7.42% -- so that wasn't the only reason.

The number of titles we added to our database jumped by 192.48% over last year, which isn't bad, considering that our materials budget only doubled.

The extra purchasing power, incidentally, came from our participation in a statewide school and public library buying cooperative -- which has secured for us a hefty discount on new materials. At the end of 1990, we had about 100,000 individual items in our collection (among all branches). Now we have 134,734 -- over a third more than last year.

We began so many new services in 1991 that it's a little hard to accurately calculate the effect of each one alone. For instance, in March of 1991 we opened all of the library branches 7 days a week. Throughout the entirety of 1991, our busiest day was Monday, followed by Tuesday, followed by Saturday, followed by Thursday. Throughout the entire year, our slowest day was Sunday -- but on Sunday we're only open four hours.

If we divide the number of items checked out by the number of hours the library was open on that day, however, we get a slightly different picture. On a per hour basis, Monday is still our busiest day, but then the order changes: Sunday is next, then Tuesday, then Saturday -- with Wednesday the slowest.

In 1991, the library placed 110% more reserves on items than in 1990 -- but that reflects another new service. In 1991, we changed our computer system to allow patrons to place their own holds, either from a terminal at the library, or by connecting their home computers to the library by telephone. Clearly, many patrons have found that to their liking.

I'm always interested in what people really want from a library. In 1991, Douglas County residents demonstrated some fairly strong biases.

See the attached chart for the top ten "circulators" for 1991 (which together accounted for 94% of all our checkouts). Note that just two items -- children's picture books and adult non-fiction -- together add up to over half of all items that walk out our doors.

By broad materials category, general collection BOOKS continue to be the item of choice -- 71.06% of our business. The runners-up are video tapes, paperbacks, cassettes, new books, and magazines, which together comprise another 27% of all items circulated.

I've also done some preliminary analysis on the circulation of each library branch. It's fairly obvious that the greatest single factor in library use is simply how much each branch has to offer -- that is, how many materials it has. See the attached charts for comparisons. (Note: CR stands for Castle Rock; HI for Highlands Ranch; OM for Oakes Mill; and PA for Parker.)

Finally, among all of our non-fiction materials, the most popular subject is (you'll never guess this one, especially after the holidays) ... cookbooks.

In summary, if you're looking for a New Year's resolution, you might consider this: it's far less caloric to READ about food than to eat it.

Thanks for a great year!

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