The library’s recently released 2108 annual report shows 1.2 million people visited the system’s seven branches last year and some 69,000 items were added to the collections.
Doylestown was the busiest branch, with 24 percent of the nearly 2.3 million physical items checked out, said Kominiarek. The other branches are in Bensalem, Langhorne, Levittown, Perkasie, Quakertown and Yardley.
While the demand for paper books and items like DVDs has stayed “pretty strong,” the director said, in an email, “the demand for e-book downloads has really exploded,” making up 20 percent of checkouts and making the e-library the second busiest branch.
“While e-books added to the mix, it means we have to split our one materials budget between physical and e-materials,” Kominiarek said. “During a time when state funding has been level for several years it’s difficult to stretch our dollars across the two collections,” she said, adding, “county funding has remained strong.”
The library’s 2018 budget, funded largely by state and county money, as well as contributions, fines and grants, was approximately $10.1 million, according to the annual report.
Last year, the Doylestown branch opened The Backyard, with money bequeathed from James A. Michener. It features an outdoor space with hundreds of native plants, a fire pit, café tables and seating, creating a picturesque place to enjoy the library.
Another first in 2018 was Comic Con. More than 1,000 people attended the family-friendly event, which celebrated comics, pop-culture and creativity. Other programs and services offered at the library include the popular children’s program, Summer Quest; adult education classes and Career Corner.
Kominiarek said, one the best things the library added last year was an electronic subscription to Consumer Reports.” It’s very frustrating when you want to check product reviews using Google and the Consumer Reports articles are all grayed out and you have to pay to look at them. If you have a library card and log in from the library’s website you can get everything you want from Consumer Reports.”
Citing the importance of contributions, the director credited the Disbrow Trust, an endowment that supports business and finance topics, for the new offering.
The library is always looking for innovative ways to enhance the library as a community resource, said Kominiarek. This summer, DIY Studios will open at the Quakertown and Bensalem branches. There will be equipment to make buttons, a T-shirt press, a vinyl cutter and a 3D printer. Patrons will have to bring their own supplies and take a safety class before using the machines.
“I love the idea that a kid is running for class president or a family is having a wedding or reunion, they can come in and make their own custom T-shirts or buttons to save money and do something fun,” said Kominiarek.
To learn more about the library, visit buckslib.org
The Bucks County Free Library system is healthy and the number of programs is growing, said its executive director, Martina Kominiarek.