Every month, I give a Librarian’s report at our Library Committee meeting. Our Library Committee meetings typically focus on our plans for the future – on the projects, events, and purchases that will occupy the staff’s and committee’s time in the coming weeks and months. In my Librarian’s report, I review the activities of the past month, giving updates on past and ongoing projects. I also have the chance to talk about service and reference with the committee. I am able to tell them how many research questions, computer questions, and catalog assistance Debbie and I give member each month. It is also my chance to share circulation numbers – so the committee knows how many books have been checked out and returned. In January, I give a cumulative report of our numbers for the year.
Now, in this Library, circulation numbers are not necessarily the best indicators of how much the Library is being used. Many of our Library patrons use the space every day for study and work; they may only occasionally check out a book. As part of a social club, the Library is still, in that capacity, serving the needs of its members. Nevertheless, since I spend much of my time working to improve the quality of the collection, it was one of my goals over the past year to increase circulation of the collection. In 2015, the first full year I was at the Yale Club, I just wanted to make sure that we kept and reported statistics on the health and use of the collection and Library Services. For an area of the Club whose results are largely qualitative, it seems important to me (and my Committee) to provide quantitative information about our work wherever possible. The mere fact that I had numbers to present to the committee and the Council (which oversees all the Committees) felt like a big win for the Library.
In 2016, I was a little bit greedier. I resolved to improve our numbers. My goal was to increase our circulation by 25%. I chose that number, I confess, without much thought. I did not really share the goal with anyone. It sounded like a good number to me. It also seemed reasonable. Until 2015, the Library did not have a fully functional OPAC. For much of 2013-2014 the Library was severely understaffed. After a year of reaching out to members, and encouraging to request the books they wanted, and a year of simply being present and accessible to members, it seemed reasonable that member would check out more books in 2016 than they had in 2015.
Luckily, I was close. Book circulation increased by 23% over 2015. With the addition of ebooks and digital magazines in the second half of 2016, the percentage of materials circulated increases even more. As we head into 2017, I hope to see circulation of both print and eMaterials continue to improve. This year, I also resolve to increase the number of members using the Library, so that we serve more people as well as circulate more books.