By Kris McDowell
Just because locations of Multnomah County Library (MCL) have had to alter operations due to COVID-19 doesn’t mean reading isn’t happening or being promoted.
Recently released numbers from OverDrive, the digital catalogue of ebooks, audiobooks, magazines and other content that MCL uses, show that in 2020 there were over four million checkouts by MCL patrons.
To put that in perspective, there were only eight other library systems that had more checkouts than MCL, with the Toronto Public Library topping the list at eight million checkouts, and four other library systems that tied MCL’s numbers.
Globally, 102 library systems surpassed one million digital checkouts each.
The Library has been providing readers 24/7 access to ebooks and audiobooks for several years through OverDrive and its Libby reading app. Reader interest and usage has grown every year.
Readers in Multnomah County just need a valid library card to access digital books, which can be viewed on any major device, including Apple, Android, Chromebook or Kindle.
“The digital collection has been an important and reliable resource for our community during a year of uncertainty in a global pandemic,” said Kady Ferris, Electronic Content Librarian at MCL.
“Making more of our collection available with no waiting and providing unlimited access to anti-racist and social justice books contributed to this record-breaking year of checkouts.”
The highest-circulating ebook title MCL readers borrowed through OverDrive in 2020 was Me and White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad, also the third most borrowed audiobook of the year.
The top-circulating genre, romance, represents the most popular in a vast catalog that includes thrillers, biographies and children/young adult.
Continuing its ongoing efforts to encourage reading, MCL is kicking off the 19th annual community reading project, Everybody Reads 2021 with The Book of Delights by acclaimed author and poet Ross Gay. This collection of essays drifts across a wide range of topics from the natural world to his experience living in America as a Black man.
Everybody Reads 2021 invites the community to explore daily, ordinary wonders and be awake to the beauty around us. The Book of Delights offers delight, attentiveness and a chance to reflect on difficult subjects and to discover humor, joy and charm.
The library will distribute thousands of copies of the book through libraries and high schools across Multnomah County in February as part of the project.
It is currently available for checkout and extra copies will be available in February at all neighborhood libraries. Downloadable audiobooks are available from the library catalog, thanks to the generous support of The Library Foundation.
Everybody Reads 2021 will culminate in a virtual lecture with author Gay, presented by Literary Arts, Thursday, April 8, 6 pm.
Free registration for the event is available for community members suffering financial hardship, as well as a range of ticket rates to ensure the event is accessible to all.
Ticket details at literary-arts.org/event/everybody-reads-2021-ross-gay.