Arlington County library system plans to use new budget funds to expand its collections to win back customers who left in the COVID era.
As part of the fiscal year 2023 budget recently approved by the county board, the library system received $543,000 in one-time funding to “reduce collection wait times, re-engage the community through creative programming and loading after a two-year pandemic.” Invite more readers to explore the library’s titles and participate in its various services,” officials said.
“The additional funding will allow us to get more books to more hands, faster,” said Diane Kresh, director of libraries for the county government. “A well-stocked, diverse collection benefits the entire community.”
With the budget increase, the library will expand its circulation by 12,000 titles and “drastically” reduce waiting times for popular e-books and e-audiobooks, officials said. There will also be an increase in Spanish language materials.
“Our top priority is to ensure customers have access to books and information in multiple formats,” Kresh said. “Customers should be able to read and access information when and how they want.”
The library system closed in March 2020 at the start of the pandemic, opening slower than many library systems in the region (and far slower than many across the country). During the fiscal year 2023 budget discussion, Kresh told county board members that the library’s regular customers had fallen from 75,000 before the pandemic to 55,000 in recent months.