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Indianapolis library system sees drop in visits

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No need to consult the reference desk on this one: Shorter library hours are resulting in fewer people walking through the doors.

The Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library system saw patron visits drop 15 percent in 2010, to just more than 5 million, the library disclosed.

In October, the system reduced its branch hours by a collective 26 percent to help make up for a $4 million drop in funding. Until that time, patron visits had been flat through most of 2010, CEO Laura Bramble said. "Then they really started to go down."

The number of items checked out also declined in 2010, by 3.5 percent, to 16.6 million items.

Library users appeared to be doing more research. Hours of computer use rose slightly, from 1.24 million in 2009 to 1.29 million in 2010.

Before 2010, the recession drove library stats to record highs. And the number of library card holders continued to grow last year, by 7.5 percent, to 550,540.

The library decided to reduce hours across the board and cut some employees in order to avoid shutting down entire branches. All locations are open Monday through Thursday, except the downtown Central Library, which is closed on Thursdays.

Branches are closed either on Fridays or Saturdays, with a majority open on Saturdays.

The shorter hours are expected to save about $1.5 million and keep all branches open in 2011.

The library system attributes its revenue shortfall to property-tax caps and lower than anticipated property-tax collections.

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  • alternatives....
    or we could simply reduce the millions we spend on unecessary road work and fund higher education with libraries....
  • Step Up
    The economy's down the drain which means there aren't enough tax funds to keep the library running at the level everyone is used to. So if you truly value the library and don't want to see services cut, then step up and put your money where your mouth is.

    Donate: http://foundation.imcpl.org/giving/giving.html
    • Every branch should be open at least one weekend day
      I echo what Nancy said. I love my library branch and live right by it. But I work M-F and can't make it there before they close. Since my branch isn't open on Saturdays, I'm out of luck unless I want to drive farther away.
    • Vicious cycle
      What a way to kill the system. Reduce hours to save money, which reduces the number of patrons. To the minds of the overlords this "proves" that the system is not valued by the public so they reduce funding even further. Pretty soon branches have to close, staff gets laid off and before you know it, knowledge is only available to those who can afford to buy their own books.

      If you want social change in a certain direction, this is definitely the way to get it. Way to go, Republicans.
    • library hours
      Of course, reduced hours has led to reduced patrons. My branch library is no longer open on Saturday, which makes it much harder to find an opportunity to visit for those who work full time. I don't understand why they decided to close on Saturday instead of one day during the week, but I suspect is because children from the youth center across the street come in after school.

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