Library Traffic Increases as Economy Slows Waaay Down

| 11 Comments

According to Sunday's New York Times article about library usage in New Jersey, the thriftier economic trends of the day have lent themselves to the library's frugal ways--and so we checked in with director Melody Kokola from the Metuchen Public LIbrary to see if we match these current state and national trends. Indeed, just like the article claims, lifestyle changes are currently making the library a very popular place to visit.

According to Kokola's 2008 numbers, the library business definitely upticks while the economy turns downward. Circulation, which is loaning items in general, has increased in the last year by 10-1/4%. Although the in-house computer usage has gone down, the library's website has had more hits than ever--the use of the database has gone up 52%. Attendance at all library-sponsored events went up 10%--in 2008, 133,935 visitors came to the library (this is a 11% increase from 2007 to 2008).

People "served," which allows for the counting of users who use the website only as well as those who come to the physical library for their needs, went from 150,562 in 2007 to 171,791, a 14% increase.

The Metuchen Library is part of the Multi-County Automation System. This means that, as a Metuchen library card holder, you can not only take out books from other library systems, but also order books from a wide variety of sources. This includes rare books as well, although the more expensive the book, the less likely they are to withstand the movement from one facility to another. Kokola stated that as "the government talks about cooperation," the library system has been operating under such a motto since the 1980s, lengthening its network of library services significantly over the last thirty years.

Altogether 45 different organizations utilized the library's physical space for their events or gatherings in 2008. As the frugality of reality encroaches on every aspect of daily American life, the library stands as a beacon of entertainment and knowledge and service, just as Ben Frankllin intended it to be so long ago.

11 Comments

Interesting that the library has an organization supporting it that can raise money from private donations, AND has a state mandated minimum budget.

You can even get videos from some of the other libraries if Metuchen doesn't have the one you want. Apparently not all of the libraries in the consortium share their videos.

I love our library. I am a teacher and also taking graduate courses. I regularly use the library website to place holds on books and to request inter-library loans. I've also borrowed videos from the library (they have a great selection) and visit on a Sunday morning now and then to read the newspaper. The library is a gem.

Info from League of municipalities web site

http://www.njslom.com/Library_Funding.html

In case the Metuchen library hours aren't good for you, nearly all branches of the Rutgers library have public access internet computers that also have some great free databases.

Hours and directions:

http://www.libraries.rutgers.edu/rul/h_and_d/h_and_d.shtml

If you are a Rutgers alumni with an alumni ID card you can also sign up for a Rutgers library card.

http://www.libraries.rutgers.edu/rul/alumni/index.shtml

Just keep picking up the political fight against these guys and it will just get more of you voted out of office. If looking at the budget in fine detail was so bad how come Councilman Weber made the motion to have the meeting? Was it just an election year gimmick or has he finally realized he's free to use his own mind? I give Will, Chris and Justin credit for what they've done. You can keep trying to score political points but the town has seen what they can do and are appreciative of their efforts. None of them proclaim to be perfect but they all promised to work hard and look at everything. Seems to me they've kept their promise.

Also on library funding, if reducing the statutory spending on public libraries is such a bad idea, why has the NJ League of Muncipalities put forth a proposal that is before the State government to reduce the obligation from 1/3 of a mil to 1/6 of a mil. Many years ago they pinned library financing to the total assessments of a town and while real estate has gone up at 20% a year, costs haven't. Doesn't matter, town still has to fork over the money. Think about it. We spend $800,000 a year on our library but people are arguing over $8,000 (or 1% of the library number) for the first aid squad. I can't read many books if I drop dead. Health, safety and welfare should be the first priorities but the State rules don't allow it.

Here's a question - why did the town take down the 2008 budget documents? Why not leave them up?

Same thing with the Shade Tree Commission Annual Report - put up 2008, took down 2007. The historic documents should be left up. We shouldn't have to bother Bonnie with OPRA requests for documents that have already been on the website. She has better things to do.

The library cut was the biggest piece of their plan last year

Seems to me was they ran a spreadsheet and came up with ideas without ever inquiring as to the law and the needs

Instead of coming up with headcount reductions and cuts in services which are the only true way to reduce the town spend, they ran a spreadsheet againt the budget and tried to tweak it so they could say they cut spending.

Going to need more than just tweaks to the budget AND the thermostats if they truly want to cut town spending.

I think they got into office and realized that the town has already been running a lean budget. And the budget were looked at closely with spending kept under a tight control. But if they came out and said that before hand it never would have gotten them elected.

Yeah, we wouldn't want to look at the budget now would we? We don't expect our Treasury Secretary to know about the AIG Bonus situation even though he worked closely on their bailout, do we?

If we don't look at it and know what is in it, how do we know if its right? Might be too high, too low, who knows. That's why you look at it.

Its about time everyone looked at it, not just a few people in a back room.

There's a difference between wanting to cut funding and inquiring whether funding can be cut.

Library funding is set by state statute. We learned at a recent council meeting that the statutory amount must be budgeted for the library, but not necessarily spent.

As an example, if the library turns the thermostat down(or up, depending on the season) and spends less on utilities, that amount is then available to the town for other expenses. If you have ever sweat at the library in the winter or froze there in the summer, you'll know there's room for improvement.

didnt the new councilmen want to cutting funding for Metuchen library last year?

Thought so

Very shortsighted

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Recent Comments

  • Anonymous: Interesting that the library has an organization supporting it that read more
  • Anonymous: You can even get videos from some of the other read more
  • Anonymous: I love our library. I am a teacher and also read more
  • Anonymous: Info from League of municipalities web site http://www.njslom.com/Library_Funding.html read more
  • Anonymous: In case the Metuchen library hours aren't good for you, read more
  • Anonymous: Just keep picking up the political fight against these guys read more
  • Anonymous: Here's a question - why did the town take down read more
  • Anonymous: The library cut was the biggest piece of their plan read more
  • Anonymous: Yeah, we wouldn't want to look at the budget now read more
  • Anonymous: There's a difference between wanting to cut funding and inquiring read more

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