Have you ever come in to the library and swung to your left to check out the New Books shelves, hoping for some wonderful new book by your favorite author… and it looks desolate, like there are about six new books in the whole library? Or you’ve seen the same books on the “New” shelves for what seems like the last two years?
Across the country, book budgets have been dropping since 2005 (in 2011, a national average of 3%), and the consequences of that are compounded every year. There’s a cumulative effect of reducing the amount of fresh material, which shows up in decreasing use. In effect, people kind of give up on finding items they want at the library (insert sound track of sobbing librarian here).
There’s also the increase in e-reading. It’s very popular now, and dollars that would ordinarily go to new books in print are going to build e-book collections, where circulation is soaring: at BPL, our January e-book circulation more than doubled over December’s. People are still reading; they’re just reading different formats.
But here’s the best news: this year, since the economy is beginning to recover, our City Council was able to partially restore the cuts our book budget has taken in recent years. They restored $10,000 more for books. To us, this is heaven, to be able to buy more best-sellers, to fill holes in the collection, and to respond more positively to patron requests. So spread the word: the library’s got more books! Come in and see our New Book shelves and enjoy our bounty. –Mary Beth