Town Talk: You ask – We answer

Editor’s Note: The City of New Ulm presents a weekly column highlighting activities in different departments in the city government. Once a month the city will answer questions from readers. Questions on New Ulm city issues can be sent to

You ask: How many books does the public library have, and how many are checked out?

Answer: New Ulm Public Library currently houses 70,268 books, and 111,488 books were checked out in 2016.

However, those numbers tell only the beginning of the library story, and because librarians love statistics, here are some more numbers to consider. Of the 70,268 books, 22,104 are categorized as adult fiction, 22,056 as adult nonfiction, 6,174 as young adult, 13,606 as junior, and 6,328 as picture books.

Books are the library’s lifeblood, but we also have 3,832 DVDs and 1,942 audiobooks on CD. In addition, we have ebooks, magazines, newspapers, puzzles, whole-home and appliance energy meters, low-vision equipment, children’s life jackets, and wifi hotspots – all available for checkout at no charge.

But if you come to the library and stay, there’s more. Sit down at one of 12 public computers with Internet and Ancestry Library Edition access, three iPads preloaded with games for children, and one microfilm reader/scanner/printer. Then stick around for story time or special events. In 2016, the library hosted 61 story times for 1,409 people, and there were nearly 200 special events that were attended by about 4,300 people. Almost 900 children and teens registered for the Summer Reading Program, and 56 adults participated in the Winter Reading Program.

When it comes to checkouts, adult fiction books led the way at 36,390 in 2016. In other book categories, there were 27,242 junior, 26,379 picture, 14,848 adult nonfiction, and 6,629 young adult books circulated. A total of 17,779 DVDs were checked out, as well as 4,903 audiobooks and 5,561 newspapers/magazines.

Librarians are in the business of helping people get the information they need, and we provided that service to more than 9,500 people last year. We placed holds on materials, matched readers to books, assisted with computer issues, proctored exams, set up ebooks on tablets, and much more.

Statistics provide one way for us to assess our work, and they help form our plans for the future. For example, once we identified increased use of the library’s wireless network, we acquired two wifi hotspot devices that can be checked out for one week at a time. We also know that young adults not only are checking out books, they are using library space to study, so we intend to redesign an area on the second floor just for them.

We also plan to continue sharing the library story so more citizens take advantage of the services and materials we offer. There were about 66,000 library visits in 2016, and we thank all of you who stopped in. We look forward to seeing new and familiar faces in 2017!


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