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Massena Public Library officials concerned about low circulation numbers

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MASSENA — Massena Public Library officials say that, while they’re happy to see more visitors to their facility, they’re concerned that circulation numbers are on the decline.

“Last month I decided it wasn’t a trend. Now I am concerned that it is a trend,” library Director Elaine A. Dunne-Thayer told trustees last week.

The number of library visits from January to August is 79,074, up from 73,820 during the same period last year. However, visits year on year have dropped from 9,915 in August 2012 to 8,725 this August.

“Visits are steady,” Ms. Dunne-Thayer said.

She said circulation dropped from 69,394 from January to August 2012, to 67,927 from January to August this year. Again, the library saw a decrease year on year, from 9,125 in August 2012 to 7,318 this August.

Among the decreases the library is seeing is in adult fiction, where circulation dropped from 3,303 in August 2012 to 2,706 this August. Adult nonfiction also dropped, from 694 in August 2012 to 538 this August.

“There are not as many books as we would like to have in our collection,” Ms. Dunne-Thayer said.

The juvenile area also has seen a decline, with juvenile fiction circulation declining from 1,745 in August 2012 to 1,318 this August, and juvenile nonfiction dropping from 212 in August 2012 to 155 this August.

Computer users likewise dropped, from 1,730 in August 2012 to 1,484 last month.

This year’s circulation numbers have bounced up and down, with 9,397 in January; 7,694 in February; 9,181 in March; 9,232 in April; 8,954 in May; 7,894 in June, 8,257 in July and 7,318 in August.

Library visits followed the same trend, with 10,090 in January; 11,450 in February, 9,524 in March; 11,023 in April; 11,013 in May; 8,125 in June, 9,124 in July and 8,725 in August.

On the flip side, e-book circulation rose from 69 in August 2012 to 178 last month, but that’s an area where board members had decided not to focus too much of their attention.

Now, Ms. Dunne-Thayer said, perhaps they should concentrate on that area.

“The one bright spot is e-books. Perhaps we need to reconsider it and steer the library toward online books and magazines. Potsdam recently started e-magazines. I would like to see how that is doing. I think it’s something we can consider,” she said.

She told board members she would like to put together a brochure that explains e-books and see whether patrons have any favorite authors they would like to see in the library’s collection.

“It’s a trend I feel we need to do something about. We have to meet the needs of the community. That’s our purpose,” she said.

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