Ten years after expansion, Mt. Prospect library sees record circulation
It was 10 years ago that the Mount Prospect Public Library received voter approval for a building expansion.
That's a good thing, officials say, because in the last five years the library has seen demand for circulated items shoot up 30 percent.
In 2006, a total of 816,716 items were circulated. Last year, that number reached 1,063,364 items, the most ever recorded at the library, officials said.
Circulation figures measure the number of physical items -- books, CDs, DVDs -- checked out at the library. The figures do not include e-books.
"We would not have been able to handle this demand in the old building," Executive Director Marilyn Genther said.
Genther said the down economy clearly is a factor in the recent boost in circulation. Patrons are trying to save some money by borrowing books and DVDs from the library instead of buying or renting them.
There are other factors at work, too, Genther said. The rise of e-books, for example, has jump-started interest in local libraries, she said.
In Mount Prospect, the number of e-books borrowed from the library doubled from 2010 to 2011, officials said. And that trend promises to continue, as e-books for the popular Kindle device manufactured by Amazon.com became available in the fall.
"The demand has been huge," Genther said.
More generally, Genther believes residents have "rediscovered" the library in recent years, something she connects to the expansion of the building 10 years ago.
Voters approved the $20.5 million expansion plan in March 2002. It was the library's fifth try in 15 years. The vote allowed the library to nearly double the size of its roughly 50,000-foot-building at 10 S. Emerson St.
The new space, in turn, allowed library officials to try programming and target certain populations in ways that would not have been possible in the smaller building, Genther said.
She cited specific examples, like the library's hands-on computer classes, its hosting of ESL classes in conjunction with Northwest Suburban High School District 214, its expanded catalog of movies on DVD and Blu-ray, its Early Literacy and teen programming.
"We would have kept doing some things without the expansion, of course," Genther said. "We wouldn't have just gone into static mode. But when I look back and think about what we've done in the past 10 years, I don't see much of it happening without the extra space."