Local public libraries show increases in circulation numbers
Wednesday, 30 July 2014 11:36

North Point, Sollers Point both boost total lending figures

 by John G. Bailey

    Numbers do not lie. Increased circulation figures over the last two consecutive years at Sollers Point and North Point libraries show progress in serving the needs of community residents.
    At the Sollers Point branch, the number of items checked out by library patrons in fiscal year 2014 increased by 3,897 from 2013, a jump of 15.3 percent. This follows a nearly 50 percent increase from 2012 to 2013.
    At the North Point branch, circulation numbers rose to 570,085 in 2014 from 534,212 in 2013, a 6.7 percent increase. Circulation figures for the preceding year showed a bounce of 1.4 percent.
    Reasons for the circulation increases at both libraries is the elimination of DVD rental fees and the addition of new Sunday hours, which expanded service to seven days a week, according to branch managers Yvette May of Sollers Point Library and Joanie Bradford of North Point Library. At Sollers Point, DVDs and video games accounted for 30 percent of all materials taken out in fiscal year 2014 and at North Point, DVDs are the highest circulating item.
    Bradford noted other popular items at North Point: adult fiction and children’s books and Playaways — audiobooks preloaded onto small cassettes, which allow for flexible listening options.

May thought that increased visibility of Sollers Point Library due to the razing of the nearby Sollers Point Vocational Center also explained the circulation growth. The library, she noted, is not a stand-alone building but is part of the Sollers Point Multi-Purpose Center. “Many people are just becoming aware of its [the library’s] existence.”
    Construction also was an issue at North Point Library. The renovation of the Merritt Park Shopping Center parking lot in front of the library probably explained the slight decrease in the number of people visiting North Point in 2014, according to Bradford. She surmised, however, that any consequent decrease in circulation was countered by the popularity of cloud-based e-materials which patrons can access without visting the library. All BCPL branches offer e-books through Overdrive and 3M Library and e-magazines through Zinio.
    At any rate, renovation is now complete. “The new parking lot is beautiful and is an enormous improvement,” Bradford said.
       Both libraries offer more than just books and movies. Computers for personal use are also a big draw. For patrons in need of assistance, staff at both branches are trained to provide computer help. Staff can also help job-seekers fill out online applications and can give tips on creating resumes and cover letters.
    With a wide selection of materials for children and young adults, the Sollers Point and North Point branches offer regular activities and special events for youths. The weekly Preschool Story Time and Baby Story Time sessions are well attended at both libraries. Sollers Point also hosts weekly venues for interactive xBox and Wii gaming sessions for younger patrons.
    [A complete listing of new and ongoing activities and events for all age groups is published weekly under “Library News” in The Eagle.]
    “The [Sollers Point] branch has become a destination, and not just a place to check out library materials,” May said.
    “I think a big part of North Point’s success is the personal connection between our customers and the library staff,” said Bradford.
    In the future, patrons of both libraries can look forward to viewing free movies in the fall, as both branches have recently acquired public movie licenses. And next year, North Point Library will be celebrating its 50th anniversary with special events and activities for patrons. “Stay tuned for details,” said Bradford.
New Director
    Baltimore County Public Library announced the selection of Paula Miller as the new director in May. Miller will replace director James H. Fish, who  retired after more than 17 years of service at BCPL.
    Miller is the fourth director and first female director in BCPL’s 67-year history. 
    She earned a master’s degree in library science from the University of Maryland and began her career at Dover Public Library in Delaware. Miller then worked for the Eastern Shore Regional Library in Maryland and the Westlake Porter Public Library in Ohio. She comes to Baltimore County from Colorado, where she has been director of the Pikes Peak Library District since 2006.
    “Since my husband and I lived and worked in Maryland early in our careers,  this [her new job] brings us back full circle.” Miller said.
    “I’m excited to begin working with BCPL board, staff and community partners to explore new and emerging library needs and to find innovative solutions that will keep our libraries relevant to the communities they serve,” she said.