Numbers, Numbers, Everywhere!

Carrie Herrmann has 25 years experience in libraries, most of those in Northern Kentucky. A Graduate of University of Kentucky, Carrie is the Public Service Coordinator for Boone County Public Library.

Working in a library, I hear quite often that the library is dead, but to paraphrase Mark Twain, “Reports of our death have been greatly exaggerated.”  Libraries are needed in the 21st century more than any other time.  We are, after all, living in the information age.

Neil Gaiman, award winning novelist, said, “Over the last decade, which is less than a blink of an eye in the history of the human race, it’s all changed. And we’ve gone from a world in which there is too little information, in which information is scarce, to a world in which there is too much information, and most of it is untrue or irrelevant. You know, the world of the Internet is the world of information that is not actually so. It’s a world of information that just isn’t actually true, or if it is true, it’s not what you needed, or it doesn’t actually apply like that, or whatever. And you suddenly move into a world in which librarians fulfill this completely different function.  We’ve gone from looking at a desert, in which a librarian had to walk into the desert for you and come back with a lump of gold, to a forest, to this huge jungle in which what you want is one apple. And at that point, the librarian can walk into the jungle and come back with the apple. So I think from that point of view, the time of librarians, and the time of libraries—they definitely haven’t gone anywhere.”

Historically, public libraries in the United States have served three main missions: access to information, supporting the education system, and supporting life-long learners.  For a very long time the primary method libraries had of meeting all three missions was by offering access to books.  In the last twenty-five years libraries have added magazines, music, DVDs, audiobooks, programs, the Internet, and now ematerials.  All of these services help us provide you with access to the information you need.  Our mission has not changed, however, in recent years a fourth one has been added—Community Center.  Libraries are now a gathering place for all ages, whether it is to hold a meeting or to meet up with friends.

Libraries operate on fiscal year calendars, so every July I gather statistics covering July 1 to June 30.  I love numbers.  These numbers help us measure how BCPL is doing at meeting the needs of Boone County, to measure against ourselves from year to year and to measure how we stack up against the other libraries in Kentucky.  I am a little competitive.

Looking back over this last year at Boone County Public Library:

  • The library offered a collection of 505,525 items and access to 80 databases.  (277,100 books, 99,872 ebooks, 90,509 AV items [audiobooks, music CDs, DVDs, and software], 37,365 downloadable AV items [eaudiobooks, streaming video, and downloadable music], and 679 magazine subscriptions.)
  • We checked out 1,751,848 items.  This is a modest increase over the previous year of .1%
  • eBook check-outs saw an 86.2% increase over last year.
  • 1,065,995 visits were made to the Library’s website.  This is an increase of 8.1%.
  • This year 104,274 people were educated and entertained  at 6,441 programs. We offered 2% more programs, but saw 24% more people this year.  This tells me that the programs we are offering are a higher caliber/more tailored to the community so more people are attending.
  • For the second year in a row, more than 1 million people (1,107,039) walked through the doors of Boone County Public Library. This is a 9% increase in visits this year.
  • 2,075 meetings were held by 767 community groups in the Library’s meeting rooms.
  • 211,792 computer users were provided Internet access at the Library.
  • 163,297 in person, telephone and email reference questions were answered by library staff.

When the Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives released their annual report covering Fiscal Year 2011-2012, I was able to compare BCPL to other Libraries across the state,

  • BCPL serves the 4th largest population in the state
  • BCPL ranks 3rd in the state for number of annual public services hours (hours open to the public in a year)
  • BCPL ranks 4th in the state for total book collection
  • BCPL ranks 3rd in the state for total eBook collection
  • BCPL ranks 4th in the state for total materials circulated
  • BCPL ranks 4th in the state for total number of registered borrowers
  • BCPL ranks 3rd in the state for people entering the library (behind Jefferson and Fayette Counties)
  • BCPL ranks 4th in the state for number of users of public Internet computers
  • BCPL ranks 3rd in the state for number of children’s programs offered and 4th for attendance at children’s programs
  • BCPL ranks 5th in the state for number of young adult programs offered and 4th for attendance at young adult programs
  • BCPL ranks 3rd in the state for number of adult programs offered and 2nd in attendance at adult programs.
  • BCPL ranks 6th in the state for number of reference questions answered

I am happy with these rankings, but as much as I love numbers and enjoy sharing them with other people, I know that the people of Boone County are behind these numbers.  Please keep telling us what you want and need from your library.  My goal and the goal of all Library staff is summed up by our mission statement, BCPL is working to connect you with the books you love, the information you need, and the world you live in.


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