Weekly Feature

2013-07-10 / Local News

Kenilworth location having troubles?

Library branch reports circulation, foot traffic decline
by DARLENE M. DONOHUE
Editor

In recent years, both the Town of Tonawanda Library Board and area residents have fought to keep its remaining two branches open, but one of them is showing a decline in usage while the other is showing a steady increase.

Both circulation and foot traffic have decreased at the Kenilworth branch in the Town of Tonawanda, according to statistics from the past four months, which were provided by the library’s director.

When comparing January 2013 figures to the same month last year, Kenilworth’s circulation dropped 22.4 percent, from 8,764 to 6,804, while its foot traffic decreased from 5,061 individuals to 3,280, or 35.2 percent.

Library Board officials noted that the door counts for that month were in transition, as the old system took into account all the traffic leaving and entering the reading room to store in-transit items for pickup in the Community Room, as well as the cleaning staff that was accessing the Community Room, library and parking lot.

The new system counts people who enter and exit the building.

Also, in January 2012, the Kenmore branch was closed from Jan. 23 to Feb. 7 for remodeling, which caused a spike in foot traffic at Kenilworth when comparing 2012 traffic to 2011. So, when that spike is compared to this year’s figure, it looks like there was a 35.2 percent decrease, but it may have actually been less than that, explained Dorinda Darden, the library’s director.

The figures for February 2012 may also be skewed for that same reason.

When comparing circulation from February 2012 to February 2013, circulation was up 8.9 percent at Kenmore and down 20.3 percent at Kenilworth. Foot traffic at Kenmore had increased 48.7 percent while Kenilworth dropped 29.5 percent from a year ago.

Both branches saw a decrease in circulation and foot traffic in March and April.

In March 2012, circulation was 28,936 at Kenmore and dropped 9.5 percent to 26,186 in March 2013.

Foot traffic from March 2012 compared to March 2013 went from 17,942 to 17,768 (minus 1 percent) at Kenmore and from 4,917 to 3,522 (minus 28.4 percent) at Kenilworth.

As for April, there was a 3.4 percent decrease in circulation at Kenmore while Kenilworth experienced a 4.5 percent drop. Foot traffic was down .6 percent at Kenmore and 37.6 percent at Kenilworth.

“Kenilworth branch circulation and foot traffic increased during the remodeling at the Kenmore branch from Jan. 23, 2012, through Feb. 7, 2012, because you have to compare it from the 2011 statistics from that time period,” said Darden. “People who utilize programs at the library are counted in the foot-traffic figures.”

She also noted that Kenilworth is a much smaller library than Kenmore, and it operates with fewer hours than the village’s location.

Darden noted the items listed below as factors that may have contributed to the decline in numbers:

• The Kenmore branch was closed for remodeling from Jan. 23, 2012, to Feb. 7, 2012. The Kenilworth branch was open an additional 58 hours during this time period.

• The radiofrequency identification gates and self-checkout machines were installed on April 9, 2012, at Kenmore and April 10, 2012, at Kenilworth, which changed how circulation was counted.

• New automated people counters began functioning June 1, 2012, at both branches. One of the old door counters at the Kenilworth branch was installed on the double doors leading to the Reading Room that staff go in and out of on a daily basis for delivery boxes and patrons go out of as well, thus accounting for higher numbers in the past.

“One of the old door counters at the Kenmore Branch was installed outside the maintenance office, which staff uses throughout the day for entry, delivery boxes etc.,” said Darden. “If you are not careful and step out too far, it will record as a count on the door counter, so this may account for some of the significant decrease in the patron visits statistics.”

• More patrons are borrowing e-books. Statistics for that are counted separately as part of the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library System’s electronic materials.

• More patrons renew their items online, and these statistics are counted for the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library System and not an individual library.

• Many patrons call the branches to renew items and for reference questions instead of physically entering the building. There is also a drop-box available outside the building.

“When you compare Kenilworth to libraries that are similar in size in the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library System, it fares well,” said the library director. “In 2012, the Kenilworth branch circulated 93,190 library materials and had 42,578 in foot traffic, which is fairly decent for its size.”

She continued, “It is worth keeping Kenilworth open because, since 2005, the Town of Tonawanda Public Library lost three libraries out of five (Greenhaven, Brighton and Sheridan Parkside) due to budget cuts, and the Kenilworth branch open hours have fluctuated over the years, again due to budget cuts.”

Darden added that people still come to the libraries to participate in programs and use the computers.

“We are offering more programs and services and will be doing more outreach to schools and community organizations,” said Darden. “We offer computer classes for adults, an adult book club at the Kenilworth branch, an adult monthly journal group at the Kenmore branch, Kenmore Book Club for Kids ages 9-12, Teen Gaming Night at the Kenmore branch, summer reading programs, family programs and special events.”

She added that the registered public access computer sessions from January 2013 to May 2013 have increased by 18.4 percent and 15 percent for the Kenilworth and Kenmore branches, respectively.

“In addition, many community organizations use our Community Room, [and] we have tutors from the Buffalo Public Schools, Ken-Ton schools and Literacy New York Buffalo-Niagara Inc. [using] our branches and class visits from local schools as well,” said Darden.

For those who would like to visit either branch, Kenmore is located at 160 Delaware Road, near Chapel Road, in Kenmore, and Kenilworth, at 318 Montrose Ave., near Cambridge Street, in the Town of Tonawanda.

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