Notwithstanding Mark Twain’s scornful observation – “There are lies, damned lies and statistics.” – statistics are increasingly important in today’s fast-paced world, since they offer us a quick snapshot of all that is going on around us. We turn to statistical data to help us understand the complexity of everything from climate change to political campaigns to David Ortiz’s batting average. So it is with libraries. We, too, use statistics to help us understand how people use the library, when they use the library and what kinds of materials they prefer. This information informs our decisions about future programming, staffing and materials.
Our annual statistics for the fiscal year just ended offer a wealth of information about Raynham library service – from how many items were borrowed, to how many items were loaned to other libraries, from attendance at programs, use of library computers and online services, to how many people walked through our doors. These statistics show an overall increase in library use; total circulation increased 5% over the previous year to 118,000 items. Much of the growth came from increased use of library e-content, the downloadable or streaming ebooks, audiobooks, movies, music, and magazines, that users are finding more and more easier to access and download remotely to their home computers, tablets or smartphones. Children viewed more than 11,000 e-books from our Tumblebook collection, and more than 4,200 items were downloaded from the OverDrive collection. The Hoopla service of streaming movies registered almost 3,000 views, and the new Zinio service for reading magazines online is proving popular as well.
We love these statistics; because we love knowing that what we do at the library makes a difference in the lives of people we serve. We love to be busy, to answer questions about the collection, to find that special book, CD or DVD, to give assistance with the e-catalog, e-reader, or e-demo station, or to introduce a user to a new service or program. Everyone who comes through the door wants or needs something. We are only too happy to help.
The annual statistics are fascinating, and offer us insight into the community’s interests and needs. They tell us as much about our collection as our users. We’ll spend a good many hours analyzing, evaluating and comparing these figures, looking for trends to guide our decisions to serve you in the years to come.