Library stats a complex story

The article citing declines in use at ORL branches was based on 2011 figures recently released in our Executive Summary.

To the editor:

Re: Library Use Seeing a Decline, May 18 Capital News.

Ah, the joys of statistics. The article citing declines in use at ORL branches in the Central Okanagan was based on 2011 figures recently released in our Executive Summary, specifically on a comparison between circulation in 2010 and 2011.

“Circulation” is the movement of ORL materials—when someone puts a book on hold, or goes to pick one up in a branch, or downloads an eBook from the website.

However, the way that our database counts circulation changed between 2010 and 2011, starting to code online renewals to “headquarters” rather than one’s  individual branch. When you look at the statistics, our headquarters had a 259 per cent increase in circulation with over 100,000 renewals attributed to it. It’s true that some branches are more or less busy, but not accurate to imply that use of libraries is waning based on these figures.

Additionally, circulation is one of many measures indicating how busy the library is. People also visit the library to use the computer stations or take in a storytime or read a magazine, so looking at these figures, such as program attendance (which in 2011 was the highest it has ever been in ORL history), web hits (up 8.9 per cent), downloads of digital materials (up 151 per cent) gives a more complete picture of the ways people use the ORL.


Marla O’Brien

public relations


Okanagan Regional Library

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