So What Have We Learned?: Evanston’s Readers in 2016

July 20, 2016

Bookmobile2It’s been almost a year since I joined Evanston Public Library as their Collection Development Manager.  So what have I learned about this city and its reading population?  Here’s a quick rundown of some of the facts as I see them about this great city:

Travel!  Travel!  Travel!  Evanston’s crazy for it.

Honestly I cannot quite figure out if the residents of Evanston, IL are constantly jet setting around the world or if they simply like to read about travel.  This year I weeded out all our out-of-date travel titles and bought a slew of new ones.  We then placed the books on the east side of the room where they could have their own little space.  We seem to be a victim of our own success, though.  Insofar as I can tell, Evanston residents are interested in visiting every single part of the world.  Particularly Canada, ESPECIALLY Canada!  One would think that half the population of Montreal consisted of Evanston tourists, seeing the sites and walking the streets.

What you’ve read and given away is as interesting as what you borrow

Evanston Public Library is one of the few libraries in the Chicago area to take book donations.  The bulk of these go to the book sale, but I always make a point to dip in and find those books that would suit our collection as well.  The best books are the pristine older hardcover titles that can replace our old worn out editions.  Yet time after time I see the same books or the same kinds of books filling up the bins.  Here are the titles that I see donated the most often to EPL:

  • The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner.  A very popular title . . . to give to the library because you don’t want it anymore.
  • Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi.  I don’t know why anyone would ever give this book away, but I don’t care.  More!  A library can never have too much Satrapi (since the bindings are weak and don’t last long).
  • Wild by Cheryl Strayed.  Almost every week this book appears.  Like clockwork.
  • Books on mangement, management, management, management.  Did I mention management?  Management.
  • Other library’s books.  Undoubtedly purchased at those libraries’ book sales.  Then they go straight to our booksales. And around and around the circle goes.
  • Cookbooks.  I like cookbooks but you’d be shocked how many come in.  One day we got a donation of what looked to be hundreds of brand new gluten-free cookbooks.  I honestly wondered if a gluten-free cookbook bookstore had closed somewhere and gave us their entire inventory.

On a related note, I’ve found that readers of Evanston love their books so much that they can’t bear to recycle them. Even when they probably should.  Those yellowed paperbacks from the basement that carry just the slightest tincture of mildew?  We don’t need those, but thank you.


Biographies are not for everyone

On the first floor of the library you’ll find a rotating display next to the Most Wanted section where I come up with a different grouping of books every month.  Almost everything I put there circulates beautifully.  Gardening titles.  Pets.  Travel memoirs.  But there was one topic I put there that never EVER circulated: Biographies.  Sure, folks like to read them on occasion.  But apparently there aren’t vast hoards of people here in town who only like to read the latest ones.  Good to know.

CatEvanston cat lovers outnumber dog lovers

This month you’ll find on the aforementioned first floor display a collection of books about pets, pet owners, vet memoirs, etc.  I always make certain to put just as many books out about dogs as cats.  Yet to my surprise, the cat books go out FAR more than the dog books.  I’m not going to read too much into that, but clearly cat people in Evanston are far more inclined to read about their furry feline friends than their canine compatriots.

Somebody out there is still listening to cassette tapes

When they’re about opera anyway.  Let no one tell you that outdated information doesn’t get checked out anymore.  I recently went through a shelf of old cassette tapes of various operas and symphonies to see when they’d last gone out.  A whopping 24 of them have circulated in the last 3 years, some even this year!  I’d expect that from the CD-ROMS, but cassettes?!  Surprising.

They may be a bit hidden, but our Oversized selection really does circulate

Far far, at the end of the nonfiction section, you’ll find a collection of books too big to fit on our other shelves.  These would be the Oversized books.  But for all that they’re a little difficult to find at the moment, those books circulate beautifully.  In spite of their girth and weight, they do well for themselves.  Additional Fun Fact: Oversized books go “missing” at a rate disproportionate to regular circulating books.  The idea of someone trying to sneak an Oversized book out of the library under their shirt is comical, but clearly something along that line has been happening, since so many are not on the shelves where they should be.

Evanston readers love their ebooks and e-audiobooks and are NOT afraid of a little new technology

We’re happy to report that thanks to our handy dandy instructional sheets found on the second floor, checking out ebooks and e-audiobooks has never been easier.  But what’s that?  Free instantaneous streaming?  Don’t mind if we do!  When Hoopla was introduced at EPL it took very little time for it to get going.  Now it’s more popular than ever and going strong.  That soundtrack of Hamilton: The Musical probably doesn’t hurt matters much.

Evanston readers are the best readers in the world

No brag. Just fact. But you knew that already, didn’t you?



Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.

Translate »