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Nashua librarian reports E-books flying off virtual shelves

NASHUA — Although circulation and visits to the Nashua Public Library are down slightly, the borrowing of e-books has grown significantly, according to a library official.

In the past year, e-book borrowing has increased by almost 100 percent, Library Director Jennifer Hinderer told city officials this week.

Two years ago, more than 13,000 digital items were circulated to city residents with library cards. In the past year, however, about 24,000 digital volumes were downloaded, said Hinderer.

The library takes advantage of the New Hampshire State Library’s Downloadable Books Consortium to obtain novels that are then borrowed by city cardholders. The library also purchases electronic books through OverDrive, a digital distributor of e-books that sells libraries and schools the underlying software to loan titles.

Despite the drastic increase in digital media use at the library, Hinderer said print books are still the most popular.

Overall, digital borrowing accounts for a small amount of the library’s items being taken home, said Hinderer, who estimated that about 24,000 digital downloads were included in the library’s annual circulation of about 800,000 in the past year.

“That is still a very small number,” Hinderer told the aldermanic Budget Review Committee while presenting her proposed fiscal year 2014 budget of $3 million.

Circulation is down about 3 percent from May 2012, said Hinderer. Visits to the library are down about 2 percent, she said.

She also noted that people are not borrowing as many DVDs and CDs as they have in prior years, as some of that has now shifted to e-books.

There are about 447,000 visits to the library each year or about 1,224 people per day.

“We are doing very well — very busy,” she said.

More than half of the library’s proposed budget is for its staff and benefits. About 43 employees work at the Nashua Public Library.

“There are incremental changes in salaries,” Hinderer told the committee.

The director’s salary, as proposed, will increase from $92,472 to $95,223. Eight librarians account for a combined $406,566 salary.

There are also four assistant librarians, five librarian reference employees, one media services coordinator, an assistant director and more. Twelve library assistants receive a combined salary of nearly $404,000.

The proposed library budget of $3,040,564 includes benefits. Last year’s budget of $2,316,152 did not include benefits. Hinderer expects a surplus of around $50,000 for the current budget cycle, which ends on June 30.

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