The Mohave County Library has seen a spike in digital book checkouts, and library late fees have more than halved due to limited library access throughout the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
According to Mohave County Library Director Kathy Pennell, digital media such as e-books and e-audiobooks have been growing in popularity since they were first offered by the library in 2012. Until this year, annual circulation of digital media was between 15-20%. Pennell says that number has jumped considerably since March.
“There was a notable increase after the beginning of the pandemic,” Pennell said. “Digital media checkouts increased by about 45% higher usage than prior to the library’s closure in March. Part of this increase can certainly be attributed to the coronavirus pandemic. But since the library’s partial reopening, this increased digital usage seems to be continuing.”
The library offers digital interactive “read along” and “sing along” storybooks for children, as well as 131 subscribed digital magazines, and digital e-books and audiobooks for adult readers. According to Pennell, there are thousands of titles available for instant use by library patrons.
“As ownership of smartphones and other mobile devices has increased, this has made digital content easier and more convenient to use,” Pennell said. “Materials can be automatically downloaded to the user’s device when they become available.”
Digital materials can never be lost or returned late by patrons, eliminating the risk of fines for lost or late materials. When a patron’s three-week checkout period for digital materials has concluded, materials are checked back in automatically, unless its checkout is renewed by a patron who has already returned the item.
As a result, the Mohave County Library is owed less than half in late fees as was owed last year.
From March through September, $10,675 in late fees were owed to the library, and library records showed an unrecovered balance of $4,861 as of last month. During the same time frame in 2019, late fees totaled more than $25,000, with a $11,782 unrecovered balance as of last year.