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Demand for Digital Collections Skyrocketed During Pandemic

Demand for Digital Collections Skyrocketed During Pandemic

Stay-at-home orders means more reading and streaming from the convenience of home.
Graphic: Digital collection by the numbers

Amid the stay-at-home orders and library closures of the past year, it is no surprise that demand for our digital library collection has skyrocketed. WCCLS centrally manages the digital collection while each member library manages its own print collection.

Checkouts of e-books and audiobooks increased 36% year-over-year, totaling 556,011 in the first quarter of 2021. Furthermore, e-books and audiobooks accounted for 37% of all books borrowed during the same period in 2021, up from 22% the prior year.

Collections in six languages, including Chinese, Hindi, Korean, Japanese, Russian and Tamil, were added to the digital library. We could not have accomplished this feat without support from Cedar Mill Library, who contributed funding as well as staff time to curate collections.

Licensing for e-books and audiobooks is complicated. The WCCLS Countywide Collections team worked fast and furiously behind the scenes, ensuring a positive patron experience particularly for first-time users. The team purchased new licenses to meet demand and decrease wait times.

In addition to e-books and audiobooks, streaming video also gained popularity during the pandemic. Video usage grew 36% year-over-year, totaling 64,657 streams during the first quarter of 2021.