The Chattanooga Public Library recently crossed a new threshold of circulating 1 million items to Chattanooga borrowers in fiscal year 2017. This means Chattanooga’s library patrons are actively checking out a broad selection of Library material with their library cards throughout the system’s four neighborhood branches, borrowing more books, DVDs, and downloads than ever before.
The one million milestone is significant because it not only shows a community that actively uses its public library as a valued resource on a regular basis, but it is also indicative of the library staff’s professional and deliberate efforts to maintain a healthy and relevant collection of offerings that the citizens of Chattanooga want, use, and in some cases help create.
Library Leadership attribute this milestone to their commitment to best practices for maintaining and growing a fresh collection of material that reflects the community. This is achieved in a variety of traditional ways like ongoing collection maintenance and development , but also with the use of the library’s own highly popular Patron Request system where, since 2012, over 24,000 titles have been acquired from individual requests. Library staff also gather and evaluate analytics that create monthly reports recommending what to buy, what needs replacing, what categories are underused or what categories are underdeveloped. As a result, collection development efforts are intentionally responding to the data and requests in real time which keeps the collection of 275,787 items updated throughout the year.
“These numbers are very encouraging to us and certainly an indication that we are getting it right by establishing a growing and evolving collection that is meaningful to Chattanoogans. It also shows us that not only is Chattanooga a city that really still loves books, but they are also embracing some of our newer offerings like sewing machines and wifi hot spots in significant ways. To that we say, thanks a million, Chattanooga!,” stated Library Executive Director, Corinne Hill.
In fact, sewing machines and wifi hot spots were the two highest circulated items at the system’s downtown branch this fiscal year. Chattanooga Public Library has deliberately expanded their circulation to reach beyond physical books and DVDs with other 21st century items such AV equipment for non profits, memberships to the Chattanooga Zoo, wifi hotspots, sewing machines, as well as web-based items like streamable audiobooks, music and movies, online tech education hubs and tools for Geneaology research.
In the next fiscal year the library will focus on refreshing and expanding the Children’s collection, which accounts for over 44% of the system’s total circulation, with the goal to increase diversity, because every child should see themselves in the books that they read.