In Nov. 27 IssueBy Kim GrahamTimes Journal Reporter
With the recent economic down turn and the high cost of living, consumers are tightening their belts and spending less. Local booksellers have noticed a decrease in business but the Russell County Library is enjoying an increase in use of its services.
At Peggy's Books, the only bookstore in Russell County, times are tough. The store deals mostly in used books but also sells some new books at a 20% discount from the suggested retail price.
"The economy has slowed down my business," said store owner Peggy Gorbandt. "About ten days to two weeks before the election, sales dropped drastically."
Meanwhile at the library, many people are returning to borrowing books instead of purchasing.
"Circulation statistics have gone up in the last 3 months," said Russell County Library Director Rachael Antle. "Currently, total circulation is 11,000 up from 8,000 last year."
It's no wonder circulation is up since Russell County residents can acquire a library card for $1.50 and borrowing is free.
Avid readers who follow a specific author waiting with anticipation of the next book release, often rush to stores to buy as soon as the new book hits the shelf but that trend is in decline.
"I know my new book selling has gone down," said Gorbandt. "I have to cut back on ordering new books."
Then there are others who are happy to wait until someone else reads it and trades it in at the used bookseller.
Recently, folks are turning to borrowing books from the library instead of making the purchase at all.
"Rachael Antle, the new director, is definitely trying to focus on ordering what people want to read," said Kimberly Taylor, Information Technology Librarian at the Russell Springs branch. "We're definitely amping up our collection of books."
The library provides a list for patrons to suggest titles for ordering so that the newer more sought after titles are available locally for check out.
"I base my ordering on what patrons want to read," Antle said. "I will do my best to get somebody a book if they want to read it."
"I've heard several comments from patrons about offerings of books here in the library," said Glenda York, Assistant Director of the Russell Springs Library.
If the book is not available at Russell County's libraries, Inter-library Loans are also available from other libraries across the state. Books may be ordered from outlying libraries and loaned from the local library.
Antle says the library handles about 60 inter-library loans (ILL) per month.
To qualify for ILLs, books must be at least 6 months old and the patron must be in good standing with the library.
Both library branches also have DVD collections available for check out.
Russell County Library's Jamestown branch has a DVD collection including a varied selection from family favorites like Jumanji and The Andy Griffith Show and newer titles such as Juno and Little Miss Sunshine. The library relies on donations to expand their collection.
"We depend on community support to help us out with donations," said Taylor.
Like many other larger book stores, Gorbandt has attempted to diversify her offerings and encourage business offering Kentucky Proud products, local made candles and artwork for sale in her shop.
"Everybody's business is being hurt and we just have to survive it as individuals and businesses," said Gorbandt.
Consumers seem to be surviving these lean economic times by utilizing the services of the local library.
"People use the library for the many resources available," said Taylor.
She says many kids visit the library to do homework using computers to research and print assignments.
Computers are available for use at both branches of the library. Antle says Russell County libraries have about 1,000 computer users each month.
The library also has an extended services program to serve Russell County residents who cannot get to the library.
"Extended Services is offered not just for handicapped or homebound but also because economically some folks can't afford to travel to the library in outlying areas like Creelsboro and Jabez," said Wade Daffron, Extended Services Librarian. "I travel to all corners of the county."
For the library, there is promise in an increase in awareness and support of the library in the community.
"If people see good things about the library, hopefully they'll donate more to the library," said Antle.
Hope for the bookseller is that the holidays will bring increased sales.
"We'll have to wait and see what the Christmas season brings," said Gorbandt.