The number of items checked out of public libraries in Contra Costa County grew by 7.85 percent this past year, thanks in part to programs promoting recreational reading and literacy, according to library officials.
The growth reflects a longer-term trend that has seen circulation more than double over a 10-year period, the county library system said in a news release Friday.
The system includes 26 community libraries, including the , which is now housed in its temporary headquarters at the old Railroad Station on Ferry Street, but is expected to return to its renovated building on Court Street in August.
Library employees analyze how patrons use the libraries and also talk to them on a daily basis, officials said.
"As a result of this practice, we have invested in children’s books intended to help kids feel confident when reading independently and have also increased the size of popular young adult, health, cooking, memoirs, and mystery fiction collections," Library Director Barbara Flynn said in a statement. "Community members have responded to these focused investments by using the library at a greater pace than ever before."
During the past year, 7.5 million items were checked out of Contra Costa libraries, up from 6.9 million the year before.
Each library hosts story times and author visits, and the county library system offers a summer reading festival. The news release also cited one-city/one-book programs and book discussion groups.
Also contributing to the rise in circulation are the addition of a second library in Antioch and new libraries in Lafayette and Walnut Creek, plus "a redesigned website that includes reading recommendations provided by library staff and immediately downloadable eBooks and audiobooks," the news release said.
Library officials also credited collaborations with community groups, such as Friends of the Library in various communities, and gifts from foundations and community groups. Singled out was First Five Contra Costa for contributing "tens of thousands of dollars for the support of early literacy collections in the Antioch, Danville, El Sobrante, Hercules, Oakley, Pleasant Hill, and San Pablo Libraries."
The county library system also offered the following "Library Snapshot":
Total number of items that circulated last year: 7,489,545
Total number of eBooks that circulated last year: 103,790
This year’s increase of children’s books circulated compared to 2010: 275,758
This year’s increase of children’s books circulated compared to 2003: 1,457,857
Number of copies of Harry Potter books the Library owns: 798
Percent of these Harry Potter books currently in children’s hands: 81%
Number of children’s picture books checked out annually: 978,197
Number of teen books checked out annually: 328,511
Number of adult fiction books checked out annually: 944,076
Number of travel books checked out annually: 67,938
Number of cookbooks checked out annually: 78,082
Cost of a library card: $0.00