Grant helps the OK Virtual Library meet patron demand

(STILLWATER, OKLAHOMA / August 30, 2021) – Thanks to a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Oklahoma Department of Libraries, thousands of new titles are being added to the Oklahoma Virtual Library (OKVL) from now through Sept. 30. Librarians have already ordered more than 2000 titles, including copies of popular bestsellers to fulfill long waiting lists and children’s and young adult titles in anticipation of back-to-school reading.

The virtual library has been steadily growing in popularity, which Technical Services Supervisor Andrea Kane expects to continue.

“Although we are no longer seeing record-breaking eBook checkouts like we had in the summer of 2020, checkouts are still 13 percent higher than the summer of 2019, showing that the audience for electronic materials continues to grow,” Kane said.

The OK Virtual Library is comprised of more than 90 small and medium-sized libraries throughout Oklahoma that combine their resources to increase access to digital materials for their patrons. As demand for electronic materials grows, librarians order increasingly more digital titles.

Kane and other librarians who purchase titles for the OKVL rely heavily on patron recommendations to make purchasing decisions.

“Recommending titles you want to read on OKVL helps buyers know which titles are most in-demand and how many copies are needed,” Kane said.

Kane notes that even though not every recommendation gets ordered, the suggestions help librarians make informed purchasing decisions.

“Almost 15,000 titles were recommended in the last six months, so even with grant funds, there is not enough in the budget to get every title that people request,” Kane said. “However, the more people that use the recommend function, the more accurate our data for ordering will be.”

One of the best parts of recommending titles is that if it is ordered, the patron gets placed at the top of the hold list, which means they will get the item first.

The number of requests a title gets across libraries in the consortium is just one of the factors used for prioritizing purchases. Multiple copies of existing titles must be purchased, and titles that have expired and have waiting lists must be renewed. In addition, new releases from popular authors are almost always “must orders.”

As the OKVL consortium coordinator and Stillwater Public Library’s “in demand” book manager, Kane keeps a close eye on the most popular releases to know which titles to order.

Some of the most popular recent releases added to the OKVL include three from Reese’s Book Club picks: “The Last Thing He Told Me” by Laura Dave, “The Paper Palace” by Miranda Cowley and “We Were Never Here” by Andrea Bartz,

Other hot books are “Malibu Rising” by Taylor Jenkins Reid, “People We Meet on Vacation” by Emily Henry, “Billy Summers” by Stephen King and “Blind Tiger” by Sandra Brown.

The end of summer is also bringing big-name mystery and thriller books to the OKVL; a few include: “Another Kind Of Eden” by James Lee Burke, “Bloodless” by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, “Lightning Strike” By William Kent Krueger, “The Madness Of Crowds” by Louise Penny and “A Slow Fire Burning” by Paula Hawkins. J.D. Robb will also release a new “In Death” series book.