Mesa County Library sets record for checkouts in June

Kelsey Ehlert, 4, of Grand Junction scans a book she’s checking out as her mother, Kelly, watches the screen at the self checkout desk at the Mesa County Public Library’s central branch Wednesday. “We come here every week,” said Kelly. “She loves to read.”

The Mesa County Public Library District set an all-time circulation record last month, bolstered by a new Fruita branch and a down economy that has patrons looking for cheap diversions.

Customers checked out 135,960 items online and from the library’s eight locations in June, the most ever during a one-month span at the library, which has been tracking circulation data since 1986, library spokesman Bob Kretschman said. The previous monthly record, 124,645, was set in June 2010.

Through the first six months of this year, circulation totaled 692,180, a 10 percent surge over the 629,730 materials circulated during the same period last year.

Kretschman said the central library at 530 Grand Ave. consistently has people lined up outside before it opens every morning.

“This summer has been amazingly busy,” he said.

A significant portion of the six-month circulation increase occurred at the Fruita branch, which moved from the Fruita Civic Center to a new, larger space within the Fruita Community Center in February. The number of materials checked out and renewed in Fruita during the first six months of 2011 leapt to 65,848, a 55 percent jump over the 42,576 materials for the same months in 2010. Meanwhile, the central, Clifton, Collbran and Orchard Mesa branches saw six-month circulation increases ranging from 4 to 15 percent.

More patrons are downloading electronic books and audio books and renewing materials online than last year, too. Online circulation saw a 24 percent boost in the first six months’ of this year.

Customers also are taking advantage of the library’s February introduction of Prospector, a catalog that gives users access to 30 million items in libraries throughout Colorado and Wyoming.

The bottom line, Kretschman said, is that in a slow-to-recover economy, patrons are less likely to shell out $15 or more for a new book they can use once and are more likely to rent as many titles as they want for free.

“They’re looking for an inexpensive way to keep themselves and their kids busy, and the library provides that,” Kretschman said.


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