Across 11 branches in the Greater Victoria Public Library system, items were borrowed more than five million times in 2016, making it the library service with the highest circulation per capita in Canada.
According to the Canadian Urban Libraries Council, in 2016 the GVPL saw a circulation rate of 17.8 per 100,000 items, compared to the national average of 10.5.
It also placed third in the number of visits per capita, averaging 7.8 visits versus the national average of six.
“Some people just want to borrow books, but the library is also so much more,” said Jennifer Windecker, director of public services at the GVPL.
“We are in a community that very much values education and learning, and arts and culture,” she said. “Libraries are foundational to supporting those values.”
The Greater Victoria public libraries have over 660,000 physical items to borrow, and many more virtual items as well.
In 2016, people logged onto the GVPL digital services over 4 million times to access online books, programs and courses through websites like Lynda.com, which offers hundreds of online courses from photography to business management.
Additionally, the libraries’ most loyal customers are children, who made up over 60,000 of its visitors, triple that of the adult attendance rate.
“Over 8,000 kids took part in the summer reading club this year,” Windecker said. “We offer things for kids to get into, and teens and tweens. We have digital labs so they can get into coding and virtual goggles, and have so much to offer in terms of being champions for literacy and opportunity.”
While the 2016 numbers were high, they reflected a time before the opening of the GVPL’s 12th branch, the sxʷeŋxʷəŋ təŋəxʷ James Bay Branch.
While national comparisons haven’t been released, 2017 numbers revealed an upward trend for the GVPL, which hosted over 3,200 programs and events and saw over 6.5 million visitors, with over 4.5 million visitors checking out items through online services.
“This is reflective of the strong reading culture that we have,” Windecker said. “We offer access to information, space, tools, expertise, open minds and the ability to enrich lives, so it’s much more than borrowing a book.”