County Hears Presentation on Library Usage

At the request of County Manager Derek Roland, Karen Wallace, librarian at Macon County Public Library, presented a library usage report at this week’s meeting of the Macon County Board of Commissioners. Although the library’s staffing levels and operating hours have decreased, library usage by Macon County citizens continues to grow.

From July 2015 to July 2016, Macon County libraries saw an over 25 percent increase in the number of active registered library users. Last fiscal year, there were over 33,000 active registered users in Macon County. Most users are Macon County residents, but also include part-time residents who own property in Macon County but are not part of the population count. Active registered users are library card holders who have used their card in the last three years.

Staff levels have decreased from a high of 23.4 full time equivalent staff in fiscal year 2011-2012, to 21.47 in 2015-2016. Last September, the Macon County Public Library began to close at 7:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday saving approximately $8,300 annually in personnel costs from the reduction of hours.

“One of the things that libraries are really well known for is reading, and we are really proud of that,” said Wallace. “The increase in the number of active users in Macon County reflects a lot of reading in Macon County. We are proud of Macon County citizens for the reading they’re doing.”

While many people visit the library to get books, Wallace spoke of the changes in the library’s circulation. According to Wallace, overall circulation has increased, and people are reading more; however, they are not always reading print books, they are reading in different formats such as eBooks and digital reading.

In the last fiscal year, Macon County residents checked out over 230,000 books and media, including eBooks at all the Macon County libraries. Macon County libraries are embracing the new technologies, such as eBooks which is reflected by the 20 increase in eBook usage over the last fiscal year.

Macon County libraries continue to strive to meet the technology needs of Macon County citizens regardless of their age, skill level, or whether they own their own computer. In addition to providing equipment and connectivity, library staff also provide technology classes and one-on-one assistance to citizens serving their technology needs, including employment skills, personal finance, and distance education. Over the last fiscal year, the county’s libraries continued to see increases in library technology usage increasing to over 77,000 technology sessions including library computer (internet), wireless and children’s computer sessions.

Technology use at the libraries has also changed; people who don’t have their own computers are still coming to the libraries to use computers provided by the library, but libraries have also seen an increase in people using their own devices, such as laptops, table and phones, to use the library’s technology.

Program and events attendance also continue to rise at the county’s libraries with over 24,000 people of all ages attending the programs and events last fiscal year. The county libraries hold programs and events around many different topics for all age groups reaching out to different community organizations to partner with for the programs and events. STEM and early literacy education, employment and business skills, health & mental health information and outdoor recreation are just a few of the classes and workshops citizens can find at the library.

Whether to check out books, take advantage of the library’s technology or enjoy one of the many programs or events hosted by the libraries, citizens are actively using the county’s libraries. This is evident in attendance over the last fiscal year, when over 200,000 people visited the Macon County libraries.