Book circulation up in North Okanagan

Sisters Ellie and Samantha Souch, of Fintry, on a cherished visit to the Vernon library.

There's been a renewed interest in book-borrowing in North Okanagan communities. The Okanagan Regional Library says circulation was up three per cent in 2012. 

"You've got some avid readers in the North Okanagan," says spokesperson Michele Rule.

The regional library covers the South, Central and North Okanagan, as well as the Columbia-Shuswap. Of all those areas, branches in the North Okanagan saw the biggest rise in readership over 2011. Vernon's new library could be part of the equation, but Rule says the numbers were up across the board in the North Okanagan.

"We're not sure yet if it's an anomaly or a trend," she says.

Despite the advent of e-books, Rule says for some people, old habits die hard.

"A lot of people like to just come in and browse the shelves, that's what they're used to," she says. "But we're definitely seeing a shift with some of our avid readers going to e-books."

Rule says close to 3.5 million non-electronic items—books, DVDs, CDs—were circulated last year. In comparison, about 47,000 eBooks and eAudioBooks were circulated. But they're catching up. There's been a 151 per cent jump in digital downloads since 2010.

"We're expecting a big change, and we're preparing for that change," Rule says.

The regional library service is constantly adding electronic, and non-electronic books to its repertoire based on staff selections and requests from the public. And they're offering other services to draw the public in too, such as free WiFi.

"In Cherryville, we're the only ones to offer it," Rule says.

In some of the more rural communities, she says people are often seen sitting outside the library using the internet.

"Part of our mandate is to provide access to information. We don't care how it's done," Rule says. "We're having to reinvent how we stay true to our mandate."

To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at or call (250)309-5230 or tweet: @charhelston

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