I’ve heard other librarians say things like “circulation isn’t everything” and I just brushed this off as a rationalization for their poor statistics. At least, that was the stance I took until June, which was the first month I’ve worked here that performed worse than the same month a year prior. Now it appears I’m one of those librarians rationalizing poor numbers with the phrase “circulation isn’t everything.” Oh, and before you call the ambulance, in library terms, “circulation” means “checkouts,” not blood flow.
The more I think about it, the more I realize that most of the things we do (and promote in this column) focus on everything BUT circulation. From programs to robots to outreach to HACC and HBA meetings, it would appear as though our goals align more with playing an active role in the betterment of our community than book-tending. I guess I always assumed that if you do all the outreach, plan and advertise all the programs, and listen to the needs of the patrons that the circulation thing will just take care of itself. And for the most part, it does.
So if we’re doing all the right things, why did circulation drop from June 2018 to June 2019? Well, this is the first Summer Reading Program that began in July in three years. Before that, June saw a spike in usage that just happened to coincide with the program beginning. Plus, while we’re doing all the right things, we haven’t exactly been focusing on improving our circulation statistics. The last time we made any big changes in that department was in June 2018 when we initiated automatic renewals. You know, that might have had something to do with last June’s spike as well!
Circulation is important, but it isn’t the only indicator of a library’s success – it’s just the easiest to measure. And now that I’ve had an entire month to process the fact that we underperformed in June, this morning I received a report on July’s numbers. Last year, July was our busiest circulation month with over 5,300 checkouts. This year we hit 5,400. It turns out the Summer Reading Program really influences circulation statistics.
Speaking of the Summer Reading Program – thanks to the fine folks at the Hamilton Village Real Estate for their donation!
Thanks for reading.