In with the new: e-resources have Windsor Public Library usage going up

The Windsor Public Library saw an increase of its resource usage — 3.7 per cent between 2017 and 2018, according to an annual report presented to the library's board Tuesday afternoon.

Circulation of physical books continues to decline

Kitty Pope, CEO of the Windsor Public Library, says less people are coming in to the library, but more people are accessing e-books through the library's database, allowing them to read from the comfort of their own home. (Katerina Georgieva/CBC)

If you're still going to the Windsor Public Library, you're not part of a dying breed. In fact, usage at the library is going up.

"Is Windsor still reading? Oh, you bet we're still reading," said Windsor Public Library CEO Kitty Pope.

The Windsor Public Library saw an increase of its resource usage — 3.7 per cent between 2017 and 2018, according to an annual report presented to the library's board Tuesday afternoon.

It clarifies, however, that the circulation of physical books continues to decline, and the increase is attributed to "e-resources."

"We know 40.4 per cent of all Windsorites have an active library card. That means they have used the library in the last three years at least once," said Pope, adding the provincial average is 40.2 per cent.

The Windsor Public Library has observed readers putting down physical books, in favour of electronic material. (Katerina Georgieva/CBC)

Say hi to FRED — the bookmobile

The increase in usage is attributed to more people are accessing e-books through the library's database. But according to Pope, it's also thanks to FRED.

It's not a literal person per se, but a real-life bookmobile — bringing Wi-Fi, computer access and a book borrowing station to areas of the city where there isn't a nearby library.

FRED stands for "Freedom to Read, Educate and Discover." (Katerina Georgieva/CBC)

"We pull up in front of Huron Lodge. We go to community centres. We go to places where folks can't get  to us. It has a small collection, but it is really popular," said Pope.

Although usage is up overall, some branches had a more difficult year compared to others. Pope said the WPL's Central Branch saw a decrease in resource usage.

"Usage at Central is down about 15 per cent at our gate count."

Having fun isn't hard when you've got a library card

Alan Markel said he visits the Windsor Public Library's Central branch about three times a week because "there's so much different stuff going on," like TV and movie rentals.

"You've got all the up-to-date DVDs. I read a lot, and so you've got a lot of different varieties of books. It's just a relaxing atmosphere," said Markel, adding he doesn't use e-books because he "grew up as an old-fashioned guy."

"When you're in the library, you can actually learn things. It quiets your mind down a lot. You can actually get down to basics a bit. That's what I like about it."

At the end of the day, Markel said, the most important thing is that people walk through the doors of the library, whether it be to read a story in a physical book or on its electronic counterpart.

William Stallworth, left, and Alan Markel say DVD rentals are one of the main reasons they keep going back to the library. (Katerina Georgieva/CBC)

William Stallworth has been going to the Windsor Public Library's Central branch "for years" and said he likes to rent DVD movies from there. He added the library also has valuable information about parental care.

"I have older parents that are both in their 80's, so I come here and I find out some good information on taking them places and helping them keep together, so I know what to do for myself when I get that age."

He said it makes sense for library usage to increase while less people are picking up physical books because it's a sign of "modernization."

"Even with my kids. I try to tell them, go get a book. But they'd rather look at their phone," he said.

"I think with all this new technology, the library is not as important as it used to be."

with files from Katerina Georgieva


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