This is the report distributed to the Ketchikan City Council for their March 16, 2017 meeting, and cited in a subsequent KRBD story:
At the Joint Ketchikan Gateway Borough-City of Ketchikan Cooperative Relations Committee meeting of February 10, 2017, the Committee requested City staff to provide per capital library uses for 2015 and 2016 in a similar manner as was previously provided for 2014.
Each year, with other libraries in the state, Ketchikan Public Library sends statistical data on library use to the Alaska State Library. The State Library compiles this data and makes it available on their website:
This information is used to track how public library use is changing over time in Alaska, but it can also be used to track how library use has changed in Ketchikan. Attached are several statistics on use for Ketchikan Public Library over the past four years.
Population Served and Users
The number of Ketchikan Gateway Borough residents is the Population Served. It comes from the State of Alaska, Department of Labor and Workforce Development, Current Alaska Population Overview:
The number of Registered Users is kept by the library’s ILS (Integrated Library System). Every few years we delete inactive users from the system; this was done in 2014. The number of New Users is also kept by the library’s ILS; it is a count of new registered users, not including those who have renewed their library privileges.
Circulation statistics show how many times library materials have been checked out or downloaded. The Children’s Circulation and Adult Circulation are for all categories of physical and electronic materials, including books, videos, music, magazines, and equipment such as headphones and projectors. The numbers include items owned by KPL, borrowed from other First City Libraries, and borrowed from other libraries through interlibrary loan. Circulation of adult and children’s materials fluctuates, but has remained fairly constant over the past four years.
The library conducts several hundred programs each year, open to everyone. These range from story times and interactive craft programs for children, to teen games and film showings, to talks, meetings and discussions for adults. A variety of meeting and programming spaces in the Copper Ridge Lane facility have made it possible to comfortably accommodate more programs and people.
Reference Questions and Computer Use
People come to the library with questions—about class assignments, family history, Ketchikan history and culture, and, well, everything. Staff use their expertise and knowledge of library resources to answer these reference questions. Routine inquiries such as ‘Where is the bathroom?’ and ‘What books do I have checked out?’ are not counted as reference questions; only those that require some investigation or interpretation to answer.
People use library computers to find information, do research, apply for jobs, and print out documents. Others bring in their own devices, and the library provides wifi access so they can log into the internet.
At the Dock Street facility, cruise ship visitors would often come in to ask questions about Ketchikan’s history or family connections to the area. They also used library computers to check their email or use the internet. The library’s move to Copper Ridge Lane led to a reduction in tourist use, but questions and computer use by local residents have slowly increased since the move.
Meeting and Study Room Use
At Dock Street there were no meeting or study rooms. At Copper Ridge Lane, these rooms have seen increasing use since the facility opened in 2013. The only bookings counted here are those that are sponsored by organizations other than the library; library events are counted in the Programs categories.
This figure is calculated by summing the number of uses in each of the above categories.
Uses not counted in the chart include:
- People who walk in to read and do research but do not check out materials;
- People who come in to pick up PFD and IRS forms;
- People who make copies;
- People who come in to see local artists’ works;
- Assistance to inmates in weekly library program at Ketchikan Correctional Center;
- Assistance to residents at the Saxman Senior Center, Pioneer’s Home, Manor, Seaview, New Horizons, and Rendezvous senior facilities.
This is a calculation of the number of Total Uses of the library each year, divided by the Population Served for the same year. For example, in 2016 there were 15.06 uses of the library for every child, woman and man in the Ketchikan Gateway Borough. This calculation has been remarkably consistent, ranging from 14.33 to 15.06 annual uses per Ketchikan Gateway Borough resident.
A Community Good
The numbers do not tell the whole story. A library is a community good, just as the school system, fire and police departments are community goods. A school system educates all children and creates a vibrant and thriving local economy, enhancing every resident’s life whether or not they have children. Similarly, a library supports residents of all ages to learn new skills, apply for jobs, become literate, explore new technological and virtual worlds, and broaden their knowledge of other people and cultures. It is a resource that enhances the overall economic and civic life of every member of the community, by improving the lives of individuals within it.