by Stacey Embry,
Director,
Morgan County Library
What are You Checking Out?

Last week, I went to my winter MPLD meeting. The following announcement reminded me how much I love statistics. MoLib2Go announced they achieved a record-breaking one million digital book checkouts in 2019, a milestone for this library consortium consisting of us and other local libraries in Missouri.
This explains the long wait-list on OverDrive, but is also so encouraging when we remember people thought digital content would be the end of libraries. As far as the wait-list goes, I have some ideas for that in 2020.
Back to statistics. I thought it would be interesting to share some numbers from 2019. Don’t stop reading, it isn’t just about the numbers it is about what you are checking out.
Let’s start first with what our patrons saved by checking physical items out from the library, so this number is minus any digital content: $5,054,311. Yep, that is correct, pretty impressive isn’t it? The most an individual saved? $304,679. We do some pretty great things here!
The most physical checkouts from one individual is 645. Again, I have not even touched the digital content. Before I look at the digital statistics, let’s look at what specifically is circulating.
Adult fiction – Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens, 21 circs. Adult non-fiction – Tasty Ultimate cookbook, 10 circs. Biography – Becoming by Michelle Obama, 9 circs. Large Print – a 3-way tie, One Good Deed by David Baldacci, Unbridled by Diana Palmer, Liar, Liar by James Patterson, 12 circs each. Easy Children – Cat Secrets by Jef Czekaj, 14 circs. Juvenile fiction – Smile by Raina Telgemeier, 14 circs. Young Adult fiction – a 2-way tie, Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds, To Catch a Killer by Sheryl Scarborough, 10 circs each. CD – Three Bad Jacks, 55 circs, one patron really loves this CD! Video – Avengers: Infinity War, 26 circs.
I have checked out none of these items, neither has our patron with the most saved money. This just goes to show the diversity of our collection and our patrons. Things can be popular, but not for everyone. On that note, there are some books that are highly recommended that our patrons are not checking out. A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine and She Said by Megan Twohey, are two such books. No love from our people, yet.
Now on to digital content. We had 7,659 circulations on OverDrive and 562 on Hoopla (Hoopla started in August). The largest content user on OverDrive checked out 316 items. The most checked-out item was the same as our physical collection, Where the Crawdads Sing. Maybe I should read that one. A quick note on our digital content, it is not cheap. I have purchased some eBooks for the library, Where the Crawdads Sing is one example. It cost $55 (it is now $66) for the eBook versus $16 for the print version. The print version can be checked out as long as the book holds up, the eBook has limited checkout, 24 months to be precise.
Now on to a little politics. Wow! Where did that come from? Beginning Nov. 1, 2019, Macmillan Publishers allows libraries—no matter the size of their city or town—to purchase only one copy of each new eBook title for the first eight weeks after a book’s release. Remember, we purchase through a consortium. So, yep, same thing for us. Also, remember we had one million checkouts this year. Macmillan’s decision could really harm libraries. Digital users, please remember this! Holds will be a nightmare, but we need to make a stand, stay in line, don’t purchase them.
I realize we live in a country in love with capitalism, but keep in mind what I mentioned earlier about cost. Libraries already pay an average of five times more for digital content. Libraries also buy multiple copies of these costly items, for example: As San Francisco Public Library Director Michael Lambert wrote Oct. 30, “Right now, there are 450 holds at San Francisco Public Library on an eBook that currently tops the bestseller list. That’s despite the fact that the library carries 100 copies of this particular popular title in a digital format.”
Sorry, I kind of went off line there. The stats really do speak to me, usually they whisper fun things, sometimes they yell.
For more information, visit the Morgan County Library at 600 N. Hunter, call 573-378-5319 or see the library’s Web site at morgancountylibrary.org. Library hours are 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday.