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Library seeing digital growth
library report pic
Shilin Patel helps stimulate Jasper Reimers creativity by constructing LEGOS in February 2014 at the monthly Lego Days event at the Turlock Library. Stanislaus County Library saw a 48 percent increase in the number of programs offered at its various branches and an 87 percent increase in attendance. - photo by Journal file photo

The popularity of ebooks continues to rise among the region’s readers as the Stanislaus County Library saw a demand for the material in 2013-14 that was more than double what it had been the previous year, according to the library's annual report.

The increase in electronic books, magazines, and other readable items from library patrons has increased by 58 percent over the previous year. Library customers can access 51 digital magazines 24 hours a day, seven days a week through the library’s subscription to Zinio. The Stanislaus County Library is also now offering Hoopla Digital, a free downloadable method of listening to audio books. Recently, the digital service was expanded to include streaming of music, movies and television shows.

To begin borrowing online from a computer, customers first need to create a Hoopla user account linked to the Stanislaus County Library via Mobile users may download the free Hoopla app to their Android or iOS device for service on the go. A valid Stanislaus County Library card is required to create a Hoopla user account. Customers will enjoy the convenience of checking out digital audio books, music and videos from home or on the go. Multiple users may have the same title checked out simultaneously, so titles are instantly available for customer use. The automatic return of items means there are never any late fees. Movies check out for three days, with the exception of Paramount Pictures’ films which have a two-day borrowing period. Music albums check out for seven days, however, the same album may only be borrowed twice in 30 days. Audio books check out for 21 days, which is the standard borrowing period for other library materials.

The Stanislaus County Library’s annual report for the 2013-14 year, which was completed in December, shows a slight drop of 1.2 percent in circulation and the use of in-house library material, but shows the number of residents requesting library cards is on the rise. During the time period covered in the report, an additional 16,157 library cards were issued, increasing the percentage of library card holders to 74 percent of county residents. Those cardholders checked out a total of 1,997,909 resources, according to the report.

“The way people are using the library is changing," said Stanislaus County Library spokesperson Susan Lilly. “We’ve seen an explosion in the ebooks and digital resources.”

Lilly said the library currently has a collection of about 6,000 ebooks and hopes to expand on that this year. However, some publishers do not offer ebooks to libraries and some charge significantly higher prices to obtain the materials.

The myriad of programs and activities the library's 13 branches offer continue to be a popular pastime for community members. Programs include baby and toddler storytimes, Teen Craft Fair, 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten, writing workshops, Build-a-Bot, Bookmark Art Contest, Xtreme Science Magic, Summer Reading Program, music presentations, book discussions, and Dia de los Niños. Overall, the library saw 48 percent increase in the number of programs offered and an 87 percent increase in attendance.

The library's 13 branches had a revenue of $8.3 million in 2013-2014, with 89 percent of that generated from the voter approved 1/8-cent dedicated sales tax. Another 5 percent comes from the county’s general fund and 5 percent from book sales, donations, fines, etc. One percent of the library’s revenue comes from state funding.

The library’s expenses for 2013-14 totaled $9.3 million, with 68 percent going to employee wages and benefits. Of the remaining expenses, 23 percent went for operating costs and 9 percent went for books, materials and databases. The county was tasked with covering the difference between the library’s revenue and expenses, a majority of which was used for one-time building and improvement projects, according to the county’s budget analysis.