Library visits up despite digital boom

By Noriah Williams
Mason Times staff writer

Sheryl Bass, Mason head librarian, in her office.

MASON – Mason Library was built in 1938 and is the oldest and longest standing building in the Capital Area District Library system. Recently, it has seen an influx of new patrons despite the digital sensation of the Kindle and other electronic readers. Though library staff like Sheryl Bass, head librarian at Mason, can not place their finger on a reason for the phenomenon, it has been very exciting for the library.

“People are like, ‘Oh, what are libraries going to do when e-books come on the scene?’ Well believe it or not, people have actually come to the library to ask us about digital downloads and when they see all the services and the things we offer here, they become patrons,” said Bass.

One major way library staff are aware of the increased visitors is through their holds system. If the library has a book that is wanted but not available at their location, it can be delivered from another library and be placed on hold. Mason is finding people with books on hold that they’ve never seen before, a change from heavy users whose names they recognize.

“It’s because of the digital downloads that the libraries get used more and differently. I really do think it’s the digital downloads that are bringing in patrons,” said Bass.

Some patrons are lost through expired library cards, though they only need to be renewed every 3 years. But in a worsening economy, free services like the library are more heavily used. Circulation is also increasing; those who use library services are using them more than ever.

Mason Library's children's room

Mason Library caters to parent-child relationships. These relationships are considered the ‘bread and butter’ of the library, with several programs to encourage young readers. A large room in the library is filled with books, toys and art tables with crayons to stimulate all forms of creativity. Fliers are also sent to schools, providing further information about amenities the library has to offer.

John Takis, library assistant, states that those who do not frequent the library are surprised by the amenities.

“I’ve encountered people who are surprised by the new releases we had,” said Takis. “We also have extensive resources that are only through the library, like job resources and genealogies.”

The Mason Library has also partnered with groups that provide e-books to Kindles, allowing for a unique kind of customer.

“You have to be realistic about that stuff, there are some things that will never be appropriate in an addition format. I think books will be fine. They’ve survived 3,000 years so far,” said Bass.

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