Vernon Area Public Library Experiences Increased Circulation After Renovations

Foot traffic and circulation are up at the Vernon Area Public Library in Lincolnshire following a 12-week, $1.3 million renovation project that wrapped up at the end of May.

About the remodel

Prior to this project, the 50,000-square-foot library building had not been updated substantially since its 1993 opening. Furniture, finishes, and the floorplan were all 20 years old. It was time to bring the library into the 21st century.

Lobby before renovation

Lobby before renovation

A first phase completed in winter 2011-12 removed dividing walls between adult, youth, and lobby, upgraded lighting, and rearranged the forest of stacks into neat rows along the outer walls, creating an open, flexible main public area.

This spring’s final phase involved moving walls and reconfiguring patron spaces, along with an overhaul of the library’s finishes and fixtures.

Lobby after renovation

Lobby after renovation

The new space is fresh, updated, and most importantly now features many of the amenities that our patrons requested. When you walk through our front door, the changes are fairly dramatic. The lobby has been completely reconfigured; people will notice the new self-service café area as soon as they enter. They will also notice the use of bolder colors in our Youth Services department. We wanted children to feel welcomed and engaged when visiting our library. An eight-year-old visitor summed it up pretty well: “Wow! This place looks so much more fun now!”

Stacks before

Stacks before

Highlights & performance notes

On re-opening day, May 28, we circ’ed 5,922 items—the highest recorded one-day total in the building’s 20-year history. June’s door count was up 7% from past years; July’s was up by 5%.

Stacks after

Stacks after

Display shelving

Circulation is up, notably so for collections relocated to more visible spots or placed on new, face-out retail-style shelving. Our first month of checkout statistics demonstrates:

Collections in a New Location
and/or on New Shelving

Collection

June

2012

June

2013

% Increase

New Picture Books

554

736

32%

New Junior High

167

209

25%

New Kids’ Nonfiction

375

485

29%

New Juvenile Fiction

188

457

143%

Easy Readers

4,733

5,240

10%

Kids’ Series

5,446

6,247

14%

New Adult Fiction

2,319

2,660

14%

New Adult Nonfiction

1,161

1,451

24%

Teen Graphic Novels

52

284

446%

new and popular wall

new and popular wall

Children's boutique books

Children’s boutique books

Also notable is the bump in A/V circulation. Expanded collections, display shelving, and collateral exposure from heavily trafficked New & Popular wall have boosted circulation in these categories.

new DVD wall

new DVD wall

General Collection

June

2012

June

2013

% Increase

Family DVDs

1,490

2,536

70%

wii Games

424

699

64%

International DVDs

575

685

19%

Pop/Rock CDs

1,878

2,094

11%

Country CDs

276

382

38%

Adult Blu-Ray

1,885

2,342

24%

Self service cafe

Self service cafe

Self-service café. Anchored by a soda machine, snack machine, and a commercial-grade Keurig coffee maker and K-cup vending machine, the café has been met with rave reviews and minimal staff maintenance. Initial snafus were smoothed out (hint: offer just one size cup that’s big enough to accommodate all three sizes of coffee that the Keurig makes). Unexpected bonuses: the cardboard coffee sleeves provide a new promotional vehicle for library offerings, and a lobby that smells like fresh coffee creates a very friendly and welcoming atmosphere.

Also of note in this area: music! Librarians compiled a 300+-song playlist from our CDs and Freegal, paid the applicable public performance licensing fees, and music plays at a low but audible level in the café all day, every day, adding to the conviviality of the space.

Quiet Reading Room

Quiet Reading Room

Adult Quiet Reading Room. This enclosed area seats 12, which has proven adequate thus far. The existence of this room provides the sanctuary from ambient noise that a portion of our patrons hold dear. Noise complaints have virtually disappeared since this space opened.

Youth Study Rooms

Youth Study Rooms

Study Rooms. The new enclosed study rooms are greater in number and larger than before to accommodate group projects. These are always in demand. Over the summer, we experimented with making them available on a walk-up basis, but hit snags when two patrons would walk up at the same time. The adjusted policy allows for them to be booked up to one day in advance. We also had to determine how to best use the room on the youth services side of the library. The current method allows access to adults until 2pm (during school hours), then it is limited to students only.

A final important but less tangible change is the psychological lift the community and staff have enjoyed as a result of the new space. The library feels fresh, exciting, and new. Staff are re-energized, patrons are excited and proud, and the possibilities for the future are bright.

Catherine Savage is the Head of Integrated Communications at Vernon Area Public Library District. 

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One Response to Vernon Area Public Library Experiences Increased Circulation After Renovations

  1. My staff and I had the pleasure of touring the library with Catherine and it is a beautiful space. Great article and thanks for sharing.

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