2020 in Review
Portage County Public Library Update
From Larry Oathout
Despite building restrictions due to COVID-19, circulation at the four branches of the Portage County Public Library topped 300,000 items in 2020.
The year started normally, but on March 17, the rise in Portage County COVID cases prompted the library to shut its doors until April 27, when we started offering curbside pickup of items. The library doors reopened to the public on June 29th with safety measures in place for public and staff.
Borrowers checked out 230,044 items in our buildings in 2020, with books representing 73 percent of the total.
Since many people were home during the pandemic, digital material use exploded, with items such as e-books and e-audiobooks topping 88,000 for the first time.
The curbside pickup service was used by 4,800 residents in 2020. Portage County Public Library branches were also a destination for residents of 28 other Wisconsin counties who checked out over 27,000 items.
The library also quickly adapted and put library story times, book clubs, summer reading, and other events online. Staff provided 843 virtual programs through Facebook and YouTube which were watched live by 13,000 people, and the recordings of those programs were viewed by 33,000 people.
The library also provided activities that residents could pick up and then complete on their own at home.
It was a very strange year, but the best thing was that everyone else around us was dealing with it too, so the public was very open to trying new ways of using the library.
Larry Oathout is director of the Portage County Public Library.