Lafayette Citizens Continue to Use Public Libraries in Digital Age

Nicole Mistretta

@MistrettaNicole

Within the Lafayette Public Library System (LPL), physical books make up 52% of circulating checkouts.

Within the last five years, electronic books, audiobooks and magazine checkouts increased 75%, accounting for 12% of the Library’s total checkouts in the 2018/2019 fiscal year.

“Most of us grew up reading physical books, so there’s that emotional connection. I guess there is a certain nostalgia to it,” said Keith Guidry, LPL Community Relations Coordinator.

Guidry said the library continues to buy both types to suit the reading style of patrons.

Video also appears popular with patrons, making up 33% of the circulating materials. According to Guidry, some patrons have no internet, cannot afford a paid service, and, with video rental stores out of business, can only find movie titles from the library.

“Netflix and other services don’t have everything, and you have to pay for the service. Many of the children’s titles are not things you find on Netflix or Redbox. We are the only source for many movies now,” said Guidry.

Guidry referenced a study which stated more than 50% of households do not have internet access. According to Guidry, patrons use the available computers for tasks such as applying for jobs and services, email, printing, research, studying and entertainment.

Guidry said patrons must have a library card to check out, use a computer and access online resources. Once a patron gains a library card, it does not expire unless the card has not been used in five years.

“Libraries are a great equalizer and offer people a way to improve themselves,” Guidry said, “We provide free and equal access to the people of Lafayette Parish that is not matched by any other organization out there.”

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