Books back in style says Kyle library

Readership at the Kyle Public Library is skyrocketing as reports show participation numbers are on the rise in recent years.

The number of visitors to the library is up by 3 percent from 2017, but the circulation of books, both digital and physical copies, significantly increased.

Physical copy circulation rose by 12 percent in 2017, while digital copies went up by 21 percent.

Director of Library Services Paul Phelan, who presented the report to city leaders Feb. 5, said Kyle’s library had 158,373 visits in 2018; he expects that number to continue to grow due in part to other services the library is offering.

“People may be using the library more (for other services), but are they checking out books,” Phelan said. “We checked out 214,000 books last year as opposed to 165,000 in 2015.”

Phelan credits the rise in readership at the library to the facility’s programs.

“When folks come down to enjoy those things, they tend to get a library card and check out a book,” Phelan said. “They tend to become repeat customers if they enjoy being there.”

Phelan urged the council to consider the data when reviewing the library’s budget. Phelan said he believes that auxiliary services would be the first thing cut from the budget if the city had to tighten its drawstrings.

The upturn in readership is not squarely limited to Kyle. A PEW research study suggests that millennials in the U.S. use library services more than any other generation prior, despite the recent rise of technology use.

The study confirms that the majority of U.S. residents between 19 and 36 report using library services and reading library books regularly. The study confirms millennials utilize services offered at the library, including Wi-Fi, computers and other technology.

Phelan’s goal for the coming year is to make the library and its stock of books even more accessible.

Ideas included adding drop boxes around town to make returning books easier, as well as a secondary library location with a café, database access and popular books. The library’s staff also seeks to increase available technology services through grant applications and additional funding from the council.

The library’s existing café raises between $150 and $200 profit monthly, Phelan said.

“It was really nice to be able to go to the library and have all of those resources available to us,” said council member Daphne Tenorio.

The council will review the library’s annual budget, which currently amounts to $776,716, and consider what is feasible and where the library can turn a profit.

Council member Rick Koch said he would like to assess the library’s current budget for strengths and weaknesses, which may allow for the reallocation of current funds.

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