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updated: 6/19/2014 1:45 PM

Digital downloads help Naperville library circulation grow

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  • Naperville Public Library officials say patrons checked out more than 4 million items during the past fiscal year. That's not a record for the library, but it is up from last year.

      Naperville Public Library officials say patrons checked out more than 4 million items during the past fiscal year. That's not a record for the library, but it is up from last year.
    Daily Herald file photo


Naperville Public Library didn't have a record year in terms of total circulation, but it did hit a mark officials call "kind of a big deal," with patrons checking out more than 4 million items in fiscal 2013-14.

Total materials checked out reached 4,088,625 as the library saw increased circulation of DVDs and Blu-rays as well as digital downloads, Deputy Director Lynn Hoffman said.

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That number is up roughly 3 percent from last year, when patrons checked out 3,972,841 items.

The library first reached the 4 million milestone in 2004 and has hit it several times since. The fiscal year that ended April 30 was one of them.

"We're climbing back up to a threshold we had been at previously," Hoffman said. "It feels good to feel like we're back on track again."

Hoffman said more people checked out videos on DVD and Blu-ray this year after the library last summer lifted a $1 weekly fee. Removing the fee was required when the library joined LINKin, a consortium of 10 Chicago-area libraries that gives access to materials from any member location.

People checked out DVDs and Blu-rays 726,000 times in 2013-14, up 62 percent from 447,000 the previous year, Hoffman said. Digital circulation such as e-book downloads hit 145,409 last year for a 44 percent increase from the 115,972 digital downloads in 2012-13.

"As more people become more comfortable or reliant on their mobile devices, the convenience of being able to download a book from the library and carry it with you when traveling -- it's a lot easier to do than carrying a physical book -- and it's also something that's available 24/7," Hoffman said.

Aside from increasing video and digital circulation, the library created more programs for teens, including a new robotics club and developed a world languages section of books for children.

"It's a small but growing collection," Hoffman said about the books in Spanish, Hindi and Chinese.

The library also opened the Idea Lab at the 95th Street location and began offering permanent music downloads through a service called Freegal. Hoffman said the changes helped boost circulation in Naperville while many other libraries are seeing fewer items checked out.

"The trend has been to see a decline in overall circulation," Hoffman said. "Because we have such a tech-savvy community, the use of downloadable materials has kept that from being the case here."

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