Historically, during tough economic times, public library circulation numbers increase as people return to their libraries as a primary source of information – whether through books, magazines, newspapers, film and now internet access – rather then spending the extra cash to buy these items at retail prices.
And it appears that the John Jermain Memorial Library in Sag Harbor is not bucking that trend.
According to the Gannett News Service library systems database, the John Jermain Memorial Library’s circulation saw a 47 percent increase between 2002 and 2006. These statistics are gathered on the state level, not by the library, said library director Catherine Creedon.
In-house figures for 2007, which did show a decline in circulation, may be unreliable according to media and technology coordinator Eric Cohen.Â They may be unreliable because the individuals collecting the figures may have approached the numbers from different vantage points. Or, said Creedon on Wednesday, the library could have seen an actual decrease, although statistics continued to show an upward trend in 2008.
Â Creedon has been monitoring circulation figures through the library’s computerized check-out system monthly since she took the reins in October 2007. On Tuesday she said she has seen circulation increase each month since she took over representing a 10 percent jump for 2008.
“I do know traditionally, in economic downturns, circulation goes up,” she said on Tuesday. “So I imagine for 2008 our stats will continue to rise.”
Creedon, who monitors the figures with Cohen, said one change she has made since she became director is the way circulation is calculated at the library. Instead of looking, for example, at circulation figures that include inter-library loan requests by John Jermain Memorial Library patrons to other area libraries, Creedon prefers to look specifically at the circulation occurring at the library building.
“I want to know what is happening in my infrastructure,” she said on Wednesday. “I want to know what the demand is on my colleagues at the library, how this building is being used.”
With circulation seemingly on the rise, Creedon did acknowledge she and her colleagues are thrilled, but also aware of what could be accomplished with more space at their fingertips.
“As a matter of form it is a really joyous thing for all of us to feel the energy in this library right now,” she said. “That said, I believe there are times we are all conscious of what we could do with a little more space in terms of collection development. We really can’t fit more books in this space.”
Children at the John Jermain Memorial lIbrary enjoy some reading time. (john bayles photo)