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 11, 1995

January 11, 1995 - 1994 in review

In some ways, I hate to admit this. But January 2 is probably my very favorite day to come to work. Everybody else takes their vacation day, and I have all those wonderful end-of-the-year statistics to tickle out of our computer, work up into spreadsheets and graphs, and ponder.

The year of 1994, as it happens, was record-breaking in several respects. Here are some of the totals:

Items checked out (all branches): 1,029,739 (That's an 18.15% increase over 1993.) Items now owned by the district: 208,885 Number of individual titles: 111,311 Number of patrons who used their cards in 1994: 63,304 Percent of checkouts by location (exclusive of our satellite libraries in Cherry Valley, Larkspur and Roxborough) -- Castle Rock - 30 Highlands Ranch - 28.9 Parker - 27.7 Oakes Mill - 11.7 Louviers - .7 Percent of items owned by location - Castle Rock - 33.4 Parker - 27.9 Highlands Ranch - 18.2 Oakes Mill - 17.7 Louviers - 2.8

In 1994, Highlands Ranch for the first time ever checked out more books than any branch but the Philip S. Miller Library in Castle Rock. In part, that's because the folks in Highlands Ranch (both public and staff) are wildly enthusiastic readers. In part, it's also because that library is among our most "consumer friendly." Located on a major residential and business artery, it's a spacious storefront that nonetheless manages to capture the warm feel of a family room. Of course, the balance may change again when the new Parker Library opens.

Dave Letterman style, here are the top ten most popular categories of materials in Douglas County (based on the number of checkouts at all branches throughout 1994):

10. Periodicals - 2.09% of all checkouts. 9. Paperback fiction - 2.72% 8. New (hardbound) fiction - 3.68% (This is a little misleading. After six months, "new fiction" becomes "adult fiction," so many of the numbers wind up in that statistical category by year's end.) 7. Juvenile fiction - 5.19% 6. Adult fiction - 6.1 % (Again this includes both new books and old.) 5. Books on tape - 6.45% (These items, especially the unabridged versions, are real up-and-comers in the commuting community of Douglas County.) 4. Video tape - 9.85% (I should note here that we don't buy feature films, except those that win major awards. Most of our videos fall into the category of "made from children's literature," and "adult how to's.") 3. Juvenile non-fiction - 15.93% (This is something of a jump from previous years, and deserves comment. Does this reflect home schooling and charter school activity in Douglas County? Or is it just that more people have discovered that some of the clearest, most focused writing you'll find is in the children's area? Or both) 2. Non-fiction (excluding biographies) - 19.26% (In most public libraries around the country, the use of fiction far outdistances non-fiction. The anomaly probably reflects Douglas County demographics: college-educated professionals. 1. Picture books - 21.44% (This is actually something of a drop from previous years, but still indicates that Douglas County parents are getting lots of books into their young children's hands and lives. With luck, the appetite will stick. As my grandfather used to say, "The only thing you're born liking in this world is the taste of your mother's milk. Everything else you have to LEARN to like.")

Here's another batch of numbers I find of interest: 927,496 items were checked out by Douglas County residents. Non-residents -- people from surrounding areas, mostly Elbert and Arapahoe County -- accounted for a combined 46,303 checkouts. But staff, all by themselves, checked out 48,614 items in 1994. We only have about 100 people, most of them part-time. I suspect that their high degree of library use is a big part of what makes us so successful.

I have tons of other numbers, too, (such as the 12.4% jump in the number of questions our reference staff has handled since last year). But let's just say that I can clearly demonstrate that last year was great.

The year of 1995 will be even better. You can count on it.

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