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Digital Collection Use Up. Way Up!


One of our passions at the Iowa City Public Library is to get books into your hands. During the last six weeks, we were only able to do this digitally through our collection of eBooks, audiobooks, magazines, and streaming videos. While we look forward to a time when we can provide full access to the rest of our collection, we are happy to see unprecedented use of our digital collections. We’ve seen steady growth year-to-year since establishing the collections, but we have never witnessed such a sharp spike in use like this. Here is a spotlight on some of the statistics of our streaming and downloadable collections.

 

eBooks and Digital Audiobooks: OverDrive/Libby

March and April saw records set for the number of new users, total users, and checkouts in OverDrive, our digital service that provides eBooks and audiobooks. Here are some numbers I found interesting about the last six weeks:

  • Six hundred and ninety-five residents started using eBooks and audiobooks since March 15th. That is more new users than November, December, January, and February combined.
  • The overall number of users is up 31%, with almost 4,000 people checking out eBooks and digital audiobooks.
  • eBooks are booming. For comparison, at the end of December, eBook use was up 18% from the previous year. When comparing use in April to that of November (six months ago), use jumped 81%.
  • We are not seeing this type of increase in use of audiobooks, which was our fastest growing collection over the last three years. The collection’s use was up 23% in December from last year, similar to the growth seen in the last six months.
  • New users and those returning to OverDrive, are favoring eBooks, which make up 62% of our checkouts.

Use of eBooks and audiobooks in OverDrive from November 2019 to April 2020.
Use of eBooks and audiobooks in OverDrive from November 2019 to April 2020.

Any resident in our service area (Iowa City, Hills, Lone Tree, University Heights, and rural Johnson County) can check out eBooks and digital audiobooks through OverDrive and its fantastic app, Libby. All you need is a library card and password to set up the service. ICCSD students only need their student ID.

 

Streaming Video: Kanopy

You are also watching Kanopy, our streaming video service, in record numbers. The number of videos watched increased by 55% if comparing November 2019 to April 2020, while the number of minutes increased a whopping 97%. Kanopy has limits to the number of videos you can watch during the month. Six weeks ago, we changed the limit of videos from 10 to 15. That accounts for some of the increase of use. However, there were over 550 people using the service in April, up 41% from six months ago. Last month:

Use of streaming video in Kanopy from November 2019 to April 2020.
Use of streaming video in Kanopy from November 2019 to April 2020.

Kanopy offers a great collection of independent, documentary, classic, and international films. Residents of Iowa City, Hills, Lone Tree, University Heights, and rural Johnson County can watch up to 15 videos a month through Kanopy using your library card (ICCSD students need their student ID). The limit of 15 does not apply to "The Great Courses" and "Kanopy Kids," which offer unlimited viewing.

 

Digital Magazines: rbDigital

In the months of March and April, the short writing pieces, beautiful pictures, and new recipes of magazines proved to be the perfect way to take a break. In April, you checked out 15% more issues of digital magazines through rbDigital than six months ago. However, reading interests remained the same. Current events, literary, cooking, and nature magazines are some of our most popular titles in the collection and this has held steady during the last six weeks. In April, the top five magazines were:

  1. The New Yorker
  2. The Week
  3. Cook's Illustrated
  4. New Scientist
  5. National Geographic

Use of digital magazines in rbDigital from November 2019 to April 2020.
Use of digital magazines in rbDigital from November 2019 to April 2020.

Residents in our service area (Iowa City, Hills, Lone Tree, University Heights, and rural Johnson County) can checkout our great collection of magazines using the rbDigital app or website.

We have far more in our digital collections, including historic newspapers, language learning software, and our own streaming video collection of our programs and storytimes. For more information on these collections, check out our Digital Library page.

Happy reading (and viewing, listening, researching…)!

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