print down slightly, video up sharply

Video circulation from Massachusetts public libraries doubled from 1998 to 2006. Over the same period, print item circulation fell slightly. Audio and video items together now account for 32% of total item circulation from Massachusetts public libraries.[1] Audiovisual circulation in libraries in other states might account for somewhat less, perhaps a quarter of total circulation.

YouTube, which was launched in November, 2005, now generates about 10% of broadband subscribers’ Internet traffic in North America (Ellacoya findings).

Video attracts much more attention than print. Historically, persons have spent on average relatively little leisure time reading. Most of the growth in leisure time from 1925 to the present has been absorbed in watching television. Now persons have on-demand access to large, diverse collections of videos, similar to what they have had for books.

Book digitization and internet publishing makes texts more readily accessible. But changes in access to video will have much larger effects than changes in access to print.

circulation by item format in MA public libraries


[1] Data from Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners, Public Library Data, Summary Report 2006, p. 29. This is also the source for the above graph.

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