Library visitors up 49% in 2022


The number of visitors at the Wood County District Public Library is up by nearly 50% over last year.

Library Director Michael Penrod shared his annual report at the March 20 board meeting.

Visitors to the Bowling Green and Walbridge libraries were up 49%.

“This past year, the community has really come back to the library,” Penrod said.

At Walbridge, visitors were up 5,695 to 18,288 while at the Bowling Green site, the number was up 35,730 to 106,829.

Overall circulation in 2022 was up 6% to 541,468.

The library is at around 80% of its pre-COVID numbers, Penrod said.

Circulation in 2019 was 695,059. It dropped to 445,634 in 2020.

The number of adult, children and e-card holders has stayed steady.

Every year the library purges names of card holders who have been inactive for three years. Penrod said they purge around 3,500 cards each year.

“The fact that we’re still holding (steady) is telling you that people are still signing up for cards,” he said.

The number of card holders for all ages and formats dropped 359 to 22,483.

The library added 14,000 items to the collection in Bowling Green, Walbridge, the bookmobile, the justice center and e-books.

Except for the e-books, everything else takes a lot of staff time to unbox and file, Penrod said.

Of those 14,118 items, 8,753 were books, 517 were audiobooks, 2,542 were e-books, 875 were magazines with the remaining including music and miscellaneous formats.

In 2022, 25,946 items were removed, compared to 8,114 in 2021.

“If we’re adding 14,000 items a year and we’re not doing a building addition every 10 years, we always have to get rid of things,” Penrod said.

“Last year we did an amazing job of purging the collections,” he said. “We have a collection that serves the needs of the community. Just like a gardener has to weed out things, we are always weeding.”

Penrod said the collection had gotten big over the last few years as purging wasn’t done due to staff shortage during COVID.

The Friends of the Library is planning two book sales this year, he said.

“We are constantly pulling things out of the collection so we can find the good stuff,” Penrod said.

Adult and youth attendance at in-person and Facebook events also has increased by 66% to 20,084 last year.

“The community has really come back embracing what we’re doing,” Penrod said.

The number of people coming to the library to use the computers is up to 7,824, but that number used to be 40,000 when there were 35 computers available, he said.

Now, people are visiting the library to use the internet, he said.

Wireless sessions at the library were up 28% to 119,730, but that number is determined by the number of devices that enter the library and automatically search for an internet connection, Penrod explained.

“That tells us there are more people in our facility,” Penrod said.

He told the board he didn’t know if the library would ever get back to pre-COVID numbers or if 2022 was the new normal.

Board member Brian Paskvan asked about the status of curbside pickup.

“There are still people who use it due to the weather and kids in the car, but it has really dropped off,” said Deputy Director Michele Raine.

The number of people using the self-checkout station has also increased to around 12%, Penrod said.

Penrod also shared that 2022 revenues were $3.32 million, which included $1.94 million from the public library fund, $1.12 million from the levy, $77,551 from fees and $179,136 from the foundation.

Expenditures were $3.14 million. Just over $1.76 million was spent on personnel, $44,238 on supplies, $514,585 on contracted services, $435,732 for new books, $102,757 for furniture and technology and $16,040 for miscellaneous.

Capital fund expenses for the new drop box, and the purchase and removal of 309-311 N. Church Street totaled $276,118.

Also at the meeting, the board:

• Heard Penrod report the Wayne Public Library had a new director and the director at Pemberville has resigned.

• Heard Penrod report that the preliminary estimate for the 21-year-old heating plant is higher than expected.

“My philosophy is we need to take care of the buildings now,” he said.

The library also is seeking quotes to replace windows and siding for the Carter House.

The flat roof section of the library also needs attention, Penrod said.

The library opened in June 2003 and by the end of July, there were water stains on the ceilings.

“If I can make these roof leaks stop, I will feel like I have won the lottery,” he said.

Trash cans were placed around the building during the heavy rains last month.

• Heard Raine report that the mystery reading club was returning to the Walbridge branch. The March 7 story time there reached a landmark attendance of 51 people and there are 48 Wii bowlers participating in that library’s bowling league.

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