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Library sees fewer people but gets more use

– People used the library more last year than the year before, although it was in ways different from the traditional method of physically checking out a hardback book.

Allen County Library Board members heard the results of an in-house study Thursday and discovered that almost every area of library use was up – with the exception of the number of patrons visiting the library.

Patrons dropped to 2.8 million last year, a decrease of 69,681, according to the report.

“It’s too early for any conclusions, but we are seeing some of the effects of e-books,” Library Director Jeff Krull said.

Libraries are hubs for social activity, Krull said.

“We do a lot more programs and socialization,” he said.

Circulation of all materials – books, DVDs, magazines, games, videos, e-books and downloads – rose to 9.5 million last year, about 500,000 more than 2011.

“I would guess that without the digital portion of circulation, the circulation numbers of physical items would be pretty flat,” Krull said.

The genealogy center has more than 30,000 downloads a month since it digitized much of its collection, said Curt Witcher, manager of the center.

Almost 319,500 people used the library’s reference services last year while 201,579 participated in special programs like the children’s story hour and workshops. Both areas had more participation than the year before.

The library has about 400 public computers, which are usually in great demand, Krull said.

Last year, the number of patrons using library computers rose to 1.3 million, an increase of about 40,000 over the year before.

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