Nicholas Piper reads ‘The Dreadnoughts’ by David Howarth at the St. Joseph Library’s Downtown branch Friday. The book discusses the development of battleship technology in World War I.

The 38,416 registered borrowers of the St. Joseph Public Library checked out 290,892 items in the last year, the most popular of which were books.

According to library records, 191,274 book were at least partially read.

Library Director Mary Beth Revels said she is impressed with the amount of programs the library had offered in its last fiscal year, which ended June 30.

“We offered 848 programs, and 20,909 people came,” Revels said. “We offer a myriad of programs, from preschool storytimes, toddler storytimes to STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) and STEM programming for kids and teens.”

The library’s budget currently is $45,000 in the red because of the construction of the East Hills Library and renovation work at three other branches. However, Revels said the last payment will occur next March and the library will again be debt-free.

Last year’s winter precipitation also was a culprit behind increased spending.

“We spent $77,000 for snow and ice removal at three branches,” Revels said. “Especially the Carnegie and Washington Park libraries. … We have to remove the snow and ice from all of those sidewalks, so it’s quite expensive.”

When money from the budget is freed up next year, library officials plan to invest more in electronic content.

“So people checking out ebooks, streaming material, checking out audio books, those downloadable materials,” Revels said. “That’s what more and more people are interested in doing.”

This is the 114th annual report released by the St. Joseph Public Library. Next year will be the 130th year since the initial library tax passed in 1890.

Ryan Hennessy can be reached


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