Indianapolis library system sees drop in visits

February 25, 2011

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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