By Tracy Ihnot
Delta County Libraries maintains five brick and mortar buildings with all of the library offerings that a community expects. Less visible to the public, but increasingly popular with patrons, is what library staff refers to as “the sixth library in Delta County.”
The online library that is available through Delta County Libraries’ website grants access to books, audiobooks, magazines, newspapers, classes, music, movies, and research materials, all in digital format. In 2018, usage of online resources skyrocketed.
“We have been subscribing to some of the research resources for many years, but we began focusing on expanding access to digital content in 2011 and 2012,” says Leah Morris, Collections and Systems Administrator. “The challenge has been making the community aware of what is available.”
Just like the physical items that fill the shelves at each library, digital content comes at a cost. “When evaluating our materials budget each year, we sometimes have to make tough decisions about what to keep and what to cut,” explains Morris. “Patron usage is the primary factor in making those decisions.”
“Our goal in 2018 was to increase overall usage of our online resources by 2%,” states Lea Hart, District Director. “We were very happy to learn that we far exceeded that goal.”
“We saw the biggest jump in our academic resources. Our research databases increased by 20% in total sessions and 31% in total searches. Our language learning resource, Mango Languages, increased by 19% in total sessions and Universal Class increased by 64% in overall usage.”
“Tumblebooks, a resource for K-6 books, increased by 30% and Britannica Online increased by 74% in overall usage. The community is catching on to everything we offer in digital format and we expect these numbers to continue growing,” says Hart.
The large jump in usage is not a surprise to library staff members. They attribute the increase to a district-wide push to raise awareness of digital resources, which included staff promotion in each library and the 2018 roll out of the new student e-card program.
“We delivered over 1800 student library cards to district schools beginning in August of 2018,” explains Hart. “Along with that, our staff provided demonstrations and trainings for school staff members and for students on the variety of educational tools and resources we offer.”
“Even when the other libraries are closed, all that is needed is an internet connection and a computer or device to take advantage of these resources,” Morris adds. “The online library is a key contributor to meeting the diverse needs and interests of our community.”
For more information and to access the online library, visit www.deltalibraries.org.