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Lost youth hits Nippersink library

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

RICHMOND – Fewer children in Spring Grove and Richmond likely are behind decreasing circulation numbers at Nippersink Public Library, its director said.

Unlike some area libraries, Nippersink’s circulation dropped 6 percent in 2012 with part of that coming from a decrease in interlibrary borrowing, according to the library’s annual report.

“The issue is that there are fewer children in the community,” Library Director Cynthia Cole said. “We’re really seeing demographic changes.”

Cole pointed to dropping enrollment in the two area school districts, Nippersink District 2 and Richmond-Burton High School District 157.

Total enrollment at the two districts reached a peak during the 2008-09 school year, according to Illinois Interactive Report Cards. Since then, enrollment has dropped about 10 percent.

A nationwide study by the Pew Research Center found 22 percent of those who used the library in the past 12 months said their library use has decreased.

The second most common reason cited by patrons is the library is not as useful because their children have grown, they’re retired or they’re no longer a student. The most common reason was that they can get books and do research online, which is more convenient, according to the report.

The Nippersink Public Library needs to shift its focus to reflect the changing demographics, Cole said.

The library is looking at promoting its homebound delivery program – through which temporary or permanent homebound residents get books and other materials delivered to them – expanding its computer classes for seniors, and letting groups such as knitting or chess clubs know they can use library space for free.

The circulation drop doesn’t affect the library’s funding. About 95 percent of its revenue comes from property taxes, Cole said. It also receives a small state grant that is calculated based on population, not circulation.

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