Lone Tree readers at the top

Lone Tree Library use above national average, over 1.2 million items checked out last year

Posted 2/2/11

Jane Reuter Library statistics show Lone Tree residents are among the most voracious readers in the country, outpacing the nation on a massive scale …

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Lone Tree readers at the top

Lone Tree Library use above national average, over 1.2 million items checked out last year


Jane Reuter

Library statistics show Lone Tree residents are among the most voracious readers in the country, outpacing the nation on a massive scale and easily securing top honors within the Douglas County library district.

Nationally, library users checked out an average of nine items in 2010; the typical Lone Tree resident borrowed 123. That’s almost four times the Douglas County library district’s average check-out rate of 28 items a year.

“That’s just phenomenal,” said Jamie LaRue, Douglas County director of library services. “It’s clear the people in Lone Tree value reading.”

So do all the district’s patrons, who check out three times more material from Douglas County’s seven branches than the average U.S. library user. Library use across the country has increased 10-30 percent during the recession, according to an American Library Association 2010 report.

Throughout the year, more than 2.1 million people visited Douglas County’s libraries, checking out about 8.3 million items. Lone Tree’s patrons accounted for about 300,000 of those visitors, and 1.2 million check-outs.

The district’s check-out per-capita statistics are based on each branch’s square footage, the population of the city in which it’s located and the number of items borrowed from it.

Lone Tree’s high per-capita check-out rate may be skewed by its location. While the library on Lone Tree Parkway and Yosemite Street is central to most of the city’s residents, it draws from along a 3-mile stretch that includes the east side of Highlands Ranch, west Parker, Acres Green and other neighborhoods outside the city limits.

The statistics are calculated against each city’s population, and don’t separate resident from nonresident use. Libraries districtwide also draw a mix of resident and nonresident users.

LaRue tallied each branch’s check-out rate based on its square footage. Again, Lone Tree averages 123. As runner-up, the Castle Pines branch averages more check-outs per square foot at 141, but far fewer per capita with 29. The Highlands Ranch branch loaned 57 items per square foot, and 26 per capita.

LaRue credits the 10,000-square-foot building’s circulation and display strategy, experienced staff and design for the Lone Tree branch’s popularity.

“The library looks and feels a lot like a book store,” he said. “Several years ago now, we adopted the Neighborhood Library model (which includes) lots of display walls, face-out displays, self-check stations. Roxborough, then Lone Tree, were the first libraries to try that approach in the district. It worked so well we have spread it all around the district now.”

Small libraries face potential circulation problems, so the Douglas County Library District moves items in and out of those branches at a brisk pace.

“If something doesn’t get checked out seven times in a year, we don’t keep it,” he said. “We simply can’t afford to keep materials here that don’t move. That intense inventory control is part of the reason for the popularity.

Overall, LaRue said, “It’s a very attractive lure to a very literate population.”

Lone Tree library workers see a flood of materials flow in and out of the doors daily. In mid-January, 54 percent of the library’s DVDs were checked out, and employees said that figure is below the average.

“Our book groups are well attended,” librarian Angie Brown said. “One even has a waiting list. The amount of children’s items we check out is over the top.”

Lone Tree nanny Jordan Hall is a living example of the library’s check-out statistics. She returned 17 items to the library Jan. 21, among them children’s books, movies, and arts and crafts books. Hall and her 2-year-old charge attend story-time readings twice weekly.

“I really like this library and the people here,” said Hall, 22, who rarely had used a library until she began visiting the Lone Tree branch. “Everything is really organized.”

Lone Tree Mayor Jim Gunning said the statistics reflect enlightened residents.

“I think it says people are staying well informed and are well educated,” he said. “I certainly think it reflects on the educational level of the whole area, not just Lone Tree.”

About 62 percent of Lone Tree’s residents hold a bachelor’s degree or higher, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2009 statistics. That’s well over twice the national average of 27.5 percent. Douglas County is not far behind; 53.5 percent of its residents have a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Lone Tree was among the libraries slated for replacement on a bond issue proposed in 2007 and 2008. Voters nixed the idea both times. RidgeGate’s developers had tagged a space near the Lone Tree Arts Center for the future library.

“That opportunity is gone,” LaRue said. “The people have spoken. We were told, ‘Live within your means.’”

Libraries nationwide are doing the same. Even as the recession drives up library use, with former book buyers, job seekers and Internet users flocking to its doors, taxes to support the public facilities have shriveled.

While technological advances are the driving force behind increasing library use, published material still has a significant edge over other media in Douglas County, LaRue said. About one-third of the items checked out from Douglas County Libraries in 2010 were children’s books, another third adult books and the remainder movies and music.

Douglas County Libraries ranks third in the state in circulation.

Top 2010 circulation topics for the Lone Tree Library users




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