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Use of public libraries in Washington County continues to soar

More than 12.7 million items were checked out in the last fiscal year

With the close of the fiscal year on June 30, the Washington County Cooperative Library Services reports a record-setting 12.7 million items checked out from WCCLS member libraries. Checkouts are up 14.1 percent from the 11.1 million record set just the previous fiscal year.

Two of the smallest WCCLS member libraries, Banks and North Plains public libraries, both saw more than 30-percent increases in items checked out.

With the opening of the Beaverton City Library at Murray Scholls branch in late June 2010, the Beaverton libraries (on Fifth Avenue and Murray Scholls) experienced nearly a 25-percent increase as well, exceeding 3 million checkouts (another record).

For the first time in the cooperative's 35 year history, there were four member libraries that exceeded the 1 million mark (Beaverton, Cedar Mill, Hillsboro and Tigard).

In addition, WCCLS Director Eva Calcagno reported, the Library2Go service (downloadable audio, video and e-books) more than doubled in use.

'I expect the trend in downloadable use to continue as the service will be compatible with the popular Kindle readers later this year,' said Calcagno.

The top five locations based on total items checked out in fiscal year 2010-11 were:

* Beaverton city libraries (on Fifth Avenue and Murray Scholls) - 3.37 million

* Hillsboro public libraries (Main and Shute Park) - 2.78 million

* Cedar Mill Community Library and Bethany Library - 2.51 million

* Tigard Public Library - 1.51 million

* Tualatin Public Library - 751,126

Washington County is a well-read community, said Calcagno of the new numbers. More than 50 percent of the 532,620 population are WCCLS library card holders. More than 40,000 new patrons registered for library cards last year. And with more than 1.6 million items to choose from, the many active patrons seem to find what they want and need.

Calcagno attributes the increase in visits and checkouts to county voters' passage of the November 2010 library operating services levy which enabled funding to be maintained. The continuation of that stable funding source allows libraries to maintain open hours while also continuing to focus resources on sustaining quality service and increasing efficiencies in collection development and services, she said.

One such efficiency, begun two years ago, enables WCCLS to lease or purchase additional copies of on-demand titles to reduce the hold queues on popular adult fiction, nonfiction and books on CD. This process means that patrons wait less to receive popular items than before - thus increasing the number of times a popular item may be checked out. The program helps libraries meet community demand.

The cooperative also has focused energy toward marketing and promoting services, collections and resources to meet the growing needs of the community.

'With just over 14-percent increase in checkouts this year, the voter-supported systems and services we have been able to put into place seem to be popular with our many patrons,' said Calcagno.

The Washington County Cooperative Library Services includes the Banks Public Library, Beaverton City Library, Beaverton City Library Murray Scholls, Cedar Mill Community Library, Cedar Mill Community Library Bethany, Cornelius Public Library, Forest Grove City Library, Garden Home Community Library, Hillsboro Public Libraries (Main and Shute Park), North Plains Public Library, Sherwood Public Library, Tigard Public Library, Tualatin Public Library and West Slope Community Library.