Two longtime members will be leaving the Shaker Heights Public Library Board at the end of the month. We are sorry to see both Jeanne Shatten and Kurt Miller depart. They may be the first Trustees in the history of the library to serve for nine straight years during the exact same time period. Their terms each began in 2006, which brings up the question of how things have changed since that time.
In 2005, the last full year before they began their service on the Board, the annual circulation of library items was 1,138,903 with print material accounting for 50.2% of the total. In 2014, Shaker Library circulated 1,104,774 items with non-print accounting for 50.6% of the total. And last year’s stats included an additional 4.0% for downloadable material which was at such a low level as to be almost non-existent in 2005!
With the reduction in hours at the Bertram Woods Branch, due to budget cuts, the share of total system circulation at that location dropped to 29.1% in 2014 compared to 38.1% in 2005. The share of circulation at the branch, however, had been declining for years and was in the 31% range for the previous three years before scheduled hours were cut by 23%.
Because of the emergence of the Internet and digital material, foot traffic in our buildings has declined significantly in nine years. Nonetheless, the use of public computers has continued to grow. There were only 26,245 computer sessions counted in 2005 compared to 202,357 in 2014, a 771% increase. About half of the increase was due to the availability of more computers, and the rest due to the expanded and attractive new Computer Center and Training Lab facilities that were added during the 2011 renovations.
Funding has played a part in this transition with overall dollars received by the library falling from $5.2 million in 2005 to $4.7 million in 2014. Perhaps more significant than the 10% drop in revenue was the 36% decline in dollars spent on material for the collections. And neither takes into account the loss of buying power due to inflation.
Another interesting shift between 2005 and 2014 is that the share of revenue from property taxes rose from 58% to 67% while the share from state funding fell from 35% to 29%. 1% of revenue was lost in fines and fees, as well as in investment income due to near-zero interest rates.
Our collections have also morphed over the years. Our movie collection, now predominantly in DVD format versus the older VHS, has grown from 24,308 to 34,559 (including 2,335 e-movies). Likewise, the number of Music and Audiobook items (again, mostly in newer formats) has grown from 27,562 to 61,875 (including 36,714 e-recordings).
Print magazine subscriptions, on the other hand, have dropped from 747 to 565 and the number of print books has been reduced from 217,324 to 180,318. 124,395 e-books, however, have been added. The result of all the ups and downs is that our overall collection has grown from 269,194 to 401,147 items, of which 163,444 items are in electronic format or 40.7% of the total.
2015 will bring us two new Board members and there may be more surprises in store when it comes to our statistics. If the January trends continue, we may actually see attendance on the upswing this year even with the declining circulation of physical material as growing numbers use our public computers and meeting room facilities. Although it will continue to grow, it is likely that the rate of increase for the circulation of eBooks and other electronic material will continue to decline until more people begin using eReading devices.