Click, tap and flip: Library use up despite last year's cuts
Although the local library lost about 24 percent in hours due to Washington County budget cuts last year, the R.H. Stafford Library in Woodbury saw consistent foot traffic.
"Despite the fact that we closed on Monday and Sunday, the usage numbers didn't drop," Manager Chad Lubbers said.
The hours were later restored in 2013 and new initiatives like the "One County, One Book" program along with electronic apps, made the library a favorite hangout spot for area residents.
An updated website draws nearly the same amount of traffic as the jail bookings website, Lubbers joked.
A number of new apps were launched this year, including Zinio, which allows readers to browse 135 most popular magazines and flip through the pages just like an actual magazine.
The magazines also include the same advertisements as they have in their hard copies. National Geographic, for example, allows users to click on advertisements that show more product information in a separate window.
"National Geographic now is a big hit with kids," Lubbers said.
The library saw 340,017 visitors in 2012 with 830,265 items checked out throughout the entire county library system, according to statistics provided by Lubbers.
It was a decline from the prior year's numbers, however, foot traffic and number of materials checked out didn't drop as much as they could have since the library closed for two days over a few months.
"The first quarter of 2013 has actually proven to be busier than the first quarter of 2011," he said.
Woodbury Mayor Mary Giuliani Stephens was pleasantly surprised to learn that library use jumped with the use of technology, and that it was still more than 2011 when there wasn't as much emphasis on all the different apps.
"It's great that people still have that desire to be out there and connect," she said. "That's pretty amazing technology."
Lubbers said libraries were expected to die down with the increase of mobile applications, but it turns out the opposite is true.
"More people are coming to the library now because they have these e-readers or their tablets and they don't know what to do with them," he said. "We're actually bringing in new customers now, people we haven't seen before."
For more information on the library, visit www.co.washington.mn.us/index.aspx?NID=467.