Usage jumps at Lake Bluff’s library
Lake Bluff Public Library patron Simon Moughamian peruses the book selection. Circulation has increased dramatically over the past several years. | Michelle LaVigne ~ Sun-Times
Updated: December 7, 2012 10:18AM
LAKE BLUFF — The sleepy little library in Lake Bluff has become a hot spot of activity with record numbers of items being checked out and a need to accommodate an increase in after-hours returns.
A larger walk-up drop-off slot has been installed at the new entrance that opened in the summer of 2011 as part of an overall interior renovation of the nearly 40-year-old structure. The book and media drop slot is part of an outdoor landscaping project completed in the last few weeks that includes the addition of two benches on a flagstone patio with Wi-Fi access expanded outdoors and an overall clean-up of plants in front of the library and Lake Bluff History Museum.
Looking at the circulation figures, it’s easy to see why there was a need to provide more ways for library users to return the increasing numbers of items they check out.
In July, the busiest month to date in 2012, circulation topped 12,300 items. The slowest month in 2012 was September, with circulation at 8,385 items, which is more than the busiest month eight years ago. In 2004, circulation peaked in June at 6,945. The slowest month in 2004 was December, where circulation reached 3,952 items.
“The drive-up drop-box fills up every day and is overflowing on the weekend,” Kathy Meieroff, a library board member, said.
“It’s been sort of a good perfect storm.”
Library Director Eric Bailey said circulation has increased in all collections and noted a particularly high jump in movie checkouts.
Just 10 years ago, video checkouts by adults numbered 985 for 2001 and 2002. In 2011 and 2012 so far, the running total of DVDs and Blu-rays checkouts has jumped dramatically to 20,454. Children’s videos also have jumped from 1,343 checkouts in 2001-2002 to 9,300 in 2011-2012.
Adult fiction, the bread and butter of any library, has seen big increases from a circulation of 11,747 in 2001-202 to 16,269 in 2011-2012. Library patrons also are using eBooks and eAudiobook downloads in ever-increasing numbers. In 2009-2010, Lake Bluff had 209 downloads. In 2011 and 2012, so far, that number has jumped to 2,704.
“We were pretty sleepy. That is definitely not the case now,” said Bailey, who has worked at the library for the past seven years.
“Like a lot of public libraries, we’re seeing more use because of the recession, but we’ve increased even more since we finished our renovation.”
The renovation project, which was financed as part of the general operating fund and through private donations, included moving DVDs and Blu-rays to a more centrally located area, changing the traffic pattern for checkouts, installing a new circulation desk and carving out more accessible areas for online computer work and a new computer lab with eight workstations. New furniture and other spots for quiet reading also were arranged as well as a change in the lighting to make the library more warm and inviting.
“It has become a more important part of the community and is enjoying more widespread use within the community,” Carole Stroh, a library board member for eight years, said. “I really think that the changes we made…have contributed to greater use of the library.”
“It’s a well-organized, well-run library,” said Meieroff. “We’re very proud of it.”