Not surprisingly, online business at Contra Costa County libraries boomed in 2020.
The library just released the 2020 version of its annual usage report, which said that just because the pandemic closed its 26 branches for most of the year doesn’t mean it wasn’t still a busy place.
County residents obtained 14,245 virtual library cards and 10,295 OverDrive instant digital cards. There were 1.26 million checkouts on the library’s OverDrive eBook system in 2020 — a 110 percent increase over 2019.
Overall, county residents borrowed 776,775 items from the library’s front door service in 2020.
Among those items, the most popular book for early readers was “Let’s Go For a Drive,” by Mo Willems. For middle level readers, it was “Diary of a Wimpy Kid,” by Jeff Kinney. The pandemic classic of choice for teens was “Lord of the Flies,” by William Golding, and the most popular book for adults was “Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine,” by Gail Honeyman.
Pageviews on the library’s link to New York Times stories skyrocketed to about 800 percent of those the previous year. Views of the East Bay Times were up 151 percent, to 553,654 for the year.
Views on Kanopy — the library’s system of a streaming movies — increased 156 percent over the previous year to 594,500. Use of the digital magazine subscription service Flipster increased 34 percent to 545,784.
Contra Costa County libraries hosted 6,834 chat sessions and summer reading programs hosted 2,517 participants.
The report also detailed how the system officially responded to the COVID-19 crisis by providing space, staff and pandemic response. The library provided 76 disaster service workers, two testing sites and 3D printers crafting more than 200,000 protective masks. Contra Costa libraries also served 12,071 meals in seven locations for the county’s lunch programs.
The Contra Costa system in 2020 also broke ground on the new Pleasant Hill Library, moved its genealogy collection to the Walnut Creek Library and its historical collection to the Contra Costa County Historical Society.
The library report also detailed how the system used its $34.8 million budget in 2020: 73 percent went to staffing costs, 10 percent to materials, 5 percent to facilities, 1 percent to office expenses and another 4 percent for miscellaneous costs. Eighty-eight percent of the budget came from property taxes, 11 percent from county cities and towns, and another 1 percent from other sources.