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Public library patronage numbers are on the rise

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By Kate Darnell

“The library in Cynthiana has always been busy,” said Cynthiana-Harrison County Public Library director Pat Barnes.

 But even Barnes can’t deny that the public library has never been this busy.

“There’s just more people coming through the door,” she said.

With an increased total of 9,700 library cards, more than 5,000 people entering the library in the month of January, and a 23 percent circulation increase over three years, Barnes said the numbers speak for themselves.

“I don’t know where the people are coming from,” said Barnes.

In January alone, Barnes said the library had 86 new borrowers.

Barnes said while she is excited about the additional visitors, she knows what is creating the increased library traffic flow.

“It’s free,” she said.

Barnes said nationwide family budget cuts are increasing the library’s activity and check-outs, including the DVD and magazine selections, which includes 125 subscriptions.

“You have to fit what you have in your community to your library,” Barnes said. “You have to have magazines people want to look at.”

The Cynthiana-Harrison County Library features magazines with issues ranging from reptiles to soap operas to health and fitness.

And while budget cuts bring people to the library, Barnes said the library is no stranger to the economic downfall.

“We have budget constraints just like everybody else,” Barnes said. “The state has cut what they give us by eight to 10 percent.”

But despite the cutbacks, Barnes said the library isn’t in financial jeopardy.

“Our income from the state is not a lot of money... it’s minimal, but every dollar does help,” she said.

The majority of the library’s income comes from property taxes.

So as long as people pay their taxes, Barnes said, the library will be fine.

“We’re alright,” Barnes said, adding that some smaller libraries are struggling financially. “We’re holding our own.”

 Along with changing statistics, the role of the library has also changed.

“It’s very different than it was when I was a child,” Barnes said.

The culprit of the change, Barnes said, is the Internet.

“The Internet has pretty much taken the place of our reference books,” she said. “The computers have changed the whole face of the library.”

The library houses 10 public computers and six laptops.

“We have waiting lists for the computers in the afternoon,” Barnes said. “Our computer usage is always pretty steady.”

A regular library visitor, Cecilia Miles, 33, said the computers are handy for everyone.

“After school there’s a lot of kids here,” said Miles.