Our Views: Spike in users confirms taxpayers' investment in East Baton Rouge Library paying off _lowres

Advocate staff file photo by JOHN OUBRE -- A large audience sits at the main library on Goodwood Boulevard to watch the movie Despicable me in June 2015.

In world that often seems coarser and dumber by the day, here’s some good news: Baton Rougeans are using their public library more than ever.

East Baton Rouge Parish Library officials recently reported that by just about every measure, whether it’s the number of visitors, checkout of materials, attendance at programs or use of meeting rooms, engagement with the library went up in 2015 almost 18 percent over the previous year.

That’s a testament to the appeal of good facilities, great service and creative programming, all of which has made the parish library system the busiest one in the state.

The library logged 2.3 million visits in 2015, many of which were not obviously repeat visits by the same patrons.

The library has 373,481 registered cardholders, and reference staffers passed the 1 million mark in the number of questions they answered.

The library’s collection stands at 2 million items and growing, with new archival collections entering the mix.

Patrons used public meeting rooms at the library 6,670 times, and the library’s study rooms were used by more than 32,000 patrons in 2015.

On average last year, the library’s bookmobiles made nearly 100 visits each month to preschools and day care centers. Each month, the bookmobiles logged more than 50 visits to retirement homes.

What accounts for the jump in usage? The opening of a new Main Library surely helped; typically, new buildings drive library traffic as patrons flock to check out the new digs. The new library headquarters is a star attraction, garnering several national awards for its innovative design.

As more patrons access their reading digitally, the library’s online offerings have grown, too. Patrons collectively downloaded more than 380,000 items from the library last year.

These numbers confirm the wisdom of taxpayers in supporting the East Baton Rouge Parish Library. It’s an investment that’s paying off.