Library Services Bounced Back From COVID Lockdowns in 2021

The Guelph Public Library has published its annual report from 2021, and the it looks like good news. After a year when the library was mostly shutdown because of COVID-19 lockdown precautions, most branches were open again for business as unusual, and proving to the community, again, that the Guelph Public Library is “an important social connector supporting our community throughout year two of the pandemic.”

According to the Library’s 2021 annual report, there were 1.99 million items checked out, which is an increase of 42.6 per cent from 2020 when there were 1.4 million items checked out, and that was a big dip from 2019 when 2.1 million items were checked out. In terms of new members, the Library gained 5,312 new card holders in 2021, an increase of 24.4 per cent over 2020 by an additional 24.4 per cent when there were just 4,330.

For the most part, virtual events continued in 2021, and the Library held 636 of them, an increase of 41 per cent over 2020. In all, 13,055 people attended those virtual events, an increase of 43.6 per cent from the year before. They’re impressive numbers, but the last time the Library had a full year of in-person activities in 2019, 44,000 people attended 1,551 programs.

The annual report also lays out some of the new services they’ve offered coming out of the pandemic including 750 seed packets given out in partnership with The Seed, over 1,150 book bundles (with more than 6,000 available titles), and 26 wifi enabled Samsung tablets. The Library also offered radon gas detector kits, toy lending for pre-school kids, decodable books for kids with dyslexia, and assistance for booking vaccine appointments.

With the Makerspace able to be open more at the Westminster Square Branch in the south end, a lot of makers came out to use the services last year. Nearly 3,000 people in all used the space, an increase of just over 71 per cent, with 961 Glowforge projects created, 957 3D printing sessions completed, and 422 gaming room bookings enjoyed. Also, 112 audio and video recording sessions were completed in studio, an increase of 119.6 per cent over 2020.

In terms of the most checked out items in 2021, a lot of people seemed to borrow a Chromebook or one of the disc golf sets, while the Tom Hanks’ western News of the World and Wonder Woman 1984 were the most checked out movies. In terms of old fashioned books, the most checked out were Matt Haig’s The Midnight Library, Laura Dave’s The Last Thing He Told Me, Kate Quinn’s The Rose Code and Kristen Hannah’s The Four Winds. Dav Pilkey’s Dog Man: Fetch-22 was a big hit with the kids.

You can see the full annual report here.

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