Public libraries offer a variety of items and services to patrons and can be a useful alternative to buying various media. This is especially important as more families focus on saving money while trying to keep family members enriched and entertained. If your goal is to increase circulation in your local libraries, paying attention to the habits and interests of community members is key. Taking stock of the library offerings, budget and objectives is also an essential part of choosing strategies.
Keep the public informed of current and planned library offerings. Team up with schools and community organizations to encourage community members to support their libraries. Advertising library hours and services on community bulletin boards and in local newspapers also can increase public awareness.
Seek input on how to make the library more useful and exciting for patrons. Conduct quick surveys as patrons check out library materials to assess how well their needs are being met. Place suggestion boxes throughout the library to give patrons the opportunity to express opinions about library operations. Visit communities to ask how the library can make itself more appealing to non-patrons.
Make reasonable attempts to provide the items patrons want to borrow. Assess circulation trends to identify checkout “winners” and “losers.” This helps make more room for high-interest materials while weeding out low-interest ones. View media requests to help make purchase recommendations. Keeping shelves stocked with interesting materials can motivate patrons to continue using the library.
Offer convenient services such as mobile reading vans and extended weekend hours. Making library materials more accessible encourages residents to take advantage of them. This is especially true in low-income communities where patrons may have financial barriers that prevent them from using regular library services. Asking community members how they can be better served can help the library plan appropriate services.
Break stereotypes about the appearance and interests of the “typical” library patron. Catering to different age and interest groups can increase circulation. Explaining that the library is more than just a hangout for “bookworms” can increase public interest in visiting library branches. Hold story hours for children and book club meetings for adults. Hosting book signings and poetry readings also can help increase library circulation.
Encouraging patrons to read the books that inspired popular movies can help increase circulation in public libraries. Collaborating with local schools can help get children interested in reading. Streamlining the library card application process can make holding a card more appealing to busy adults.
Although certain authors may be your personal favorites, it’s not fair to stock the shelves with these materials if they’re not helping the library meet circulation goals.
Mika Lo has been producing online content since 2005. The majority of her work has been published in areas such as parenting, lifestyle and health. Lo has also assisted with the development of community and hospital-based patient education programs, including creative discharge classes for new mothers and assisting underprivileged patients with medication assistance and information.