Knox libraries get state increase

Mary Pom ClaiborneInside 640, Our Town Arts

Knox County Public Library is pleased to announce a significant increase in the state’s appropriation for support of Tennessee’s four metro libraries. Gov. Bill Lee recommended $1.5 million in recurring funds, and another $1.5 million in single-year funds to be used for the purchase of library materials. The legislature approved the appropriation, effective July 1. The funds will be divided among Chattanooga, Knox County, Memphis and Metro Nashville library systems on a per capita basis. For Knox County Public Library, the appropriation will provide an increase of $654,600 for a total of $706,500 from the state in Fiscal Year 2022.

The library will use the funds to purchase books in all formats – print, ebook, audiobook on CD, and downloadable audiobooks for adult, teen and juvenile titles. This expenditure will reduce hold times for popular items and will add items in every category.

Downloadable audiobooks and ebooks are some of the most popular collections in the library with circulation rates increasing 8 percent and 12 percent respectively in 2020-21. The cost of one downloadable audiobook ranges from $50 to $110. For ebooks, the cost range is $27 to $60.

“We are very pleased to have this financial support from the state. This allocation comes at an important time as library usage continues to increase, particularly in the online category,” said Myretta Black, senior director of the library. “The online materials are the most expensive items in our collection and continue to be a great way for the library to provide access to our resources.”

In spite of Covid, no indoor programming and many restrictions in place, the library circulation rate increased 9.2 percent over FY2020 with a total circulation of 2.7 million items.

Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs has long advocated reading throughout the community and helped start READ CITY USA.

“We are grateful to Gov. Lee and our state legislators for this significant increase in the budget for the metro libraries. Our libraries are well-used and provide a very important service to our community as we work to create brighter futures for our children,” Jacobs said. “Learning to read and having access to high quality materials is fundamental to our focus on literacy and education. The libraries are also a critical place for job seekers and adult learners to be able to better their lives.”

Mary Pom Claiborne is assistant director for marketing, communications and development for Knox County Public Library. This week marks her first (of hopefully several) column for

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