What Council Bluffs reads – 125 years of library data

You might not know this about librarians, but we like statistics.

We count everything, and we keep those numbers forever, which is why have over a century of Annual Reports sitting in our Special Collections storage area. While the types of data reported changed over time, the one constant across all of the reports was the measure of “Circulation” – how much stuff we checked out.

So, just for fun, I went through the old reports and plugged the numbers into a spreadsheet, and the result was pretty interesting. For about 70 years, the numbers range somewhere between 200,000 and 350,000 (predictably there is a big dip during WWII). Then, starting in 1990’s, the line takes off.

What happened? Three things: First, the new library building which was completed in 1998. Second, the library began circulation DVD’s, video games, and other popular media formats. Finally, starting in the 2000’s, the library began offering electronic books, electronic periodicals, and other e-media.

While book circulation continues to be strong, it is media and electronic formats that are driving the increase.