During recent controversy over Yorkville Mayor John Purcell’s decision to replace three members of the Yorkville Library Board of Trustees, Purcell pointed out that fewer and fewer people are visiting the library in recent years.
Purcell is absolutely right about this. Traffic to the library has been falling. But in the big picture, it depends how you want to define total traffic in Yorkville’s library.
Annual visitors to the library stood at 73,690 in the 2016-2017 fiscal year, according to reports submitted by the library to the state. By the 2018-2019 fiscal year, that number had fallen to 68,114. Pandemic stay-at-home orders and capacity limits have greatly decreased library traffic over the past two fiscal years.
But as physical traffic fell, people downloading materials has soared year after year. Such traffic has grown 30% since 2016, with the biggest jumps seen during the pandemic.
“The takeaway is that even though through the last ten years we’ve seen that the attendance at the library has been decreasing, our electronic attendance has been going up,” said Darren Crawford, president of the library board. “They’ve sort of been inversely related.”
Downloadable materials offered by the library include e-books and audiobooks, as well as genealogy records.
“Because we have so many offerings online I think that’s why we see that uptick,” Crawford stated.
With Illinois fully opening this weekend, Crawford said the library has summertime plans to attract more partons. The library’s summer reading program and Friends of the Library Book Sale will help boost post-pandemic traffic, he said. Other planned events include raffles and a reading in the park event.
“We’re making plans to start an increase of getting people into the library,” Crawford remarked. “Stay tuned to our website. There’ll be things going out.”