PORTLAND, Ore. — Aug. 10, 2011 — Last year, Multnomah County Library circulated 22.7 million items -- only New York Public Library circulated more. For the ninth year in a row, Multnomah County Library patrons have checked out and renewed more items than patrons of any other U.S. library serving fewer than one million residents. With a population of about 735,000, that’s an average of about 31 items checked out or renewed for every man, woman and child in Multnomah County. Circulation of library materials is one of the primary indicators used by libraries to evaluate their success in serving the public.
This news is courtesy of the 2011 Public Library Data Service Statistical Report (PDF) recently issued by the Public Library Association. The report reflects data from fiscal year 2010.
Data from fiscal year 2011, which is compiled by the library and not reflected in the report, reveals that Multnomah County Library circulation has increased again, to 23.9 million, the highest ever experienced by the library. That means the most current annual circulation figure is 32.5 items per person.
The report also found that among large libraries in the U.S. (libraries that serve a population of 500,000 or more), Multnomah County Library has the highest collection turnover rate. That means that the library has the hardest working collection of books, CDs, DVDs and more — each item is checked out at twice the rate of the national average.
Among libraries in our population category (500,000 to 999,999), Multnomah County Library has the highest in-library materials use per capita — the number of books, journals, newspapers and other materials that patrons use in the library but do not check out.
"These numbers tell a very human story about the place of this library in our community," said Director of Libraries Vailey Oehlke. "It shows that our patrons highly value a lifetime of learning opportunities, and they view the library as an indispensable cornerstone of the community. These numbers also give a glimpse into the staggering amount of work and dedication of library staff — from the front desk to the warehouse — that makes all of this service possible. I sincerely thank the patrons and staff of Multnomah County Library for making this recognition possible."
About Multnomah County Library
Multnomah County Library is the oldest public library west of the Mississippi, with a history that reaches back to 1864. Today, Central Library and the other 18 neighborhood libraries that make up the library system house a collection of two million books and other library materials. As Oregon's largest public library, Multnomah County Library serves nearly one-fifth of the state's population with a wide variety of programs and services. Over 35,000 people use the library each day, either online or in person.