Thursday, September 6, 2007

Library saw growth

The county's public library has grown on multiple fronts according to the 2007 fiscal year statistics recently compiled by the library.

The library's Web site, voted by Warrenton Lifestyle magazine as "Best Web site in Fauquier County" last year, served as the county's virtual library, and more people than ever before took advantage of the library's online services. Patrons reserved 7 percent more books and other items online and renewed their checked out library materials 15 percent more often.

In the latter part of the fiscal year, people checked out 48 percent more downloadable audio books than the same period the previous year, and usage of the library's databases increased nearly 60 percent.

New card registrations showed gains as well. Registrations at the Bealeton Library rose by 8 percent while registrations at the smaller John Marshall Library rose nearly twice that, up 15 percent. Altogether, nearly 4,000 new cards were issued county-wide, bringing the number of library card holders to nearly 33,660.

Popular media hype may lead some to the conclusion that people don't read as much as they used to, but Fauquier's residents disprove that notion. Circulation rose by 9 percent last year — more than 457,400 books and other items were checked out among the county's three libraries.
More than 14,300 new items were added to the system-wide collection last year, bringing the total to nearly 193,600 books, audio books, CDs, videos, DVDs, and downloadable audio books (see what's new). It is not surprising, given those figures, that more people visited the county's libraries last year than had the previous year, 8 percent more, or more than 268,600 visits.

What may be surprising to some, however, given the trend toward more and more people having Internet access, is the increase in reference inquiries by library users. Fauquier County Public Library librarians responded to more than 6,000 reference questions last year, a 16 percent increase. One explanation for this is that reference librarians, known in library circles as "the original search engines," are trained to ferret out information from multiple sources, including the Internet.

Program attendance was another area showing marked increase. Fauquier's libraries presented more than 1,100 programs to more than 19,800 children, teens and adults last year, a 9 percent increase.

The county's library system comprises three libraries conveniently located from the northern end of the county to the south: the John Marshall Library, the Warrenton Library, and the Bealeton Library.