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 14, 1998

January 14, 1998 - 1997 Statistics

There are lots of ways to measure the performance of a library. The most important ones are deeply personal. Do you like to BE there? Are you well-treated by staff? Do you find interesting and useful materials?

Another kind of measurement is more quantitative. At the end of our fiscal year (end of December), our computer system cranks out all kinds of reports. I thought I’d share some of 1997’s numbers.

The most obvious measure of library activity is “circulation.” Circulation is library talk for “the number of checkouts.” In 1997, the total number of checkouts from all our libraries was 1,289,690, an increase over 1996 of 8.23 percent.

I haven’t seen 1997 figures for other Denver metro libraries, but last year, their average annual circulation increase was 3.5% -- and some libraries actually lost business.

Incidentally, over a five year period (from 1992 through 1996) the Douglas Public Library District leads the state in circulation growth: 74.7%. Our nearest competitor was Denver at 69.3% over the same five years. (Denver remodeled all of its libraries, opened two new branches, and greatly expanded the Main Branch.) After that was Arapahoe Library District at 43.1% (probably a result of their new Koelbel Library). After that, no library rose above a 25% growth in circulation.

In 1997, the number of our “registered patrons” actually dropped. In December, we purged from our files all those patron records that have not been active in the past 3 years. That included some 27,000 people (perhaps a commentary on transiency in Douglas County, or perhaps a reflection of families of many cards issued to a family, but only used by one person). On the other hand, we also issued over 13,000 new cards in 1997.

Incidentally, one of the clear findings was that for every book checked out by a male, four are checked out by females.

Some other interesting notes:

* 145 people work for the library. Together, they checked out 66,852 materials in 1997, over 5% of our entire annual business. That works out to 461 items a piece, or about 8 each week.

* Our 7 Board members checked out 763 items, which means each of them goes through about 109 items in a year, or about 2 items a week.

* Overall, our library patrons checked out about ten-and-a-half items each year. Our staff and governing board are clearly champion library users!

* In descending order, the top 6 categories of materials (together accounting for 96% of our business) are Juvenile fiction (at 34% of all our checkouts), adult non-fiction (at 21%), adult fiction (at 15%), videos (at 10%), juvenile non-fiction at almost 9%, and audiotapes at a little under 7%.

* Holds (requests placed on materials that are either checked out or at another one of our libraries) account for about 10% of all our checkouts.

* Ten percent of these holds, in turn, are initiated by patrons from home or work, either through our library modem, or over the Internet.

* District-wide, we handle about 83 checkout sessions (where a session is one person checking out any number of materials) every hour we’re open. In that same hour, we check out about 380 items, or average of 4 items per session.

* Over 60,000 new items were added to our holdings in 1997.

* Last year we offered 1,571 children’s programs, with a total attendance count of 28,793 kids. Eleven young adult programs brought in 164 young people. Our 173 adult programs fetched 1,943 people. Another way to look at this is that among our full service libraries (Highlands Ranch, Oakes Mill, Parker, and Philip S. Miller), we get an average weekly program count of 8 for each location, and an average weekly attendance count of almost 150 people.

Overall then, it has been yet another year of growth for the Douglas Public Library District.

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