City & County

Attendance up at Clark County libraries

The historical Clark County Library on Caddo Street in Arkadelphia, Arkansas. | The Arkadelphian/Joel Phelps

More people are taking advantage of the Clark County Library in post-pandemic years

By The Arkadelphian

Clark County Library Director Betsy Fisher recently addressed members of the Quorum Court, delivering an annual report required to receive funding from the Arkansas State Library.

Combined, more than 6,000 visitors graced the doors of the two public libraries in Clark County, Arkansas, in 2022. The historical library on Caddo Street had 22,905 visitors, up from 17,000 in 2021; the Cabe Library in Gurdon had 3,600 visitors in 2022, up from 3,100 the previous year.

A visitor is defined as any patron who enters the library door, Fisher said.

Fisher said the libraries opened 242 new user accounts.

She estimated that patrons saved $750,000 in 2022 by using the Clark County Library.

The number of programs the library system offers has doubled — the two libraries combined offered 201 programs in 2022 with 3,600 participants, compared to 97 programs and 1,700 participants in 2021.

Circulation has spiked over the past two years, with a total of 46,817 total volumes checked out in 2022 compared to the 40,469 in 2021; in 2020, for instance, 29,795 volumes were checked out.

What are library users checking out?

Fisher’s report detailed the Top 10 most used items available for checking out at the library.  Adult fiction takes the cake for most popular item (7,678 volumes were checked out in 2022), followed by picture books (5,753 volumes).

Juvenile fiction and non-fiction were popular items, as well, as 2,972 and 2,487 volumes, respectively, were checked out from public libraries last year.

Adult fiction continues to be the most popular category patrons check out at the Clark County Library. | The Arkadelphian/File photo

Sharing the love (of books)

Fisher reported the Clark County Library was among the first in Arkansas to implement a statewide interlibrary loan system that allows the library to fill more patron requests. Clark County lent 46 volumes and borrowed 207 last year, Fisher said.

Story time here, Story time there

The library has also expanded its outreach programs to read children’s books to students in Arkadelphia. Previously to 2022, only the Cabe Library in Gurdon offered weekly story time to pre-kindergarten students.  Under Fisher’s leadership, the local library system has since included all four Arkadelphia Head Start classes, the Davis-Baker preschool on Henderson’s campus, and to sixth-grade students at Goza Middle School.

Other programs

A telescope and a star guide at each of the two public libraries is available for loan so patrons can study the night sky. Fisher said she plans to start hosting astronomy-focused programs this fall that will continue through the total solar eclipse in April 2024.

The library also partnered with UAMS for a Pathways two-week camp this summer at Perritt Primary School.

The latest addition to the library’s digital offerings is a streaming service. Patrons get 5 credits at the beginning of each month to use toward one film or one season of a series. The service also gives patrons access to Kanopy Great Courses lectures and unlimited credits toward Kanopy Kids educational children’s programming.

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