As the coronavirus pandemic turned the world upside down, borrowing habits at Bethlehem Public Library shifted to reflect a new reality. Last spring, with our doors closed and curbside pickup not yet available, demand and use of our digital materials understandably skyrocketed, and we quickly added additional resources, such as the new on-demand service Hoopla, to cut down on wait times.
Even as we are able to bring back physical checkouts, use of our digital services remains strong, showing an increase of more than 38 percent over the past year.
And yet with all of the changes in how we get library items to our patrons, one thing remains constant: Bethlehem loves to borrow.
And what did you love borrowing in 2020? Read on for some of Bethlehem Public Library’s most-loved loans of the past year.
When it comes to physical books, the most borrowed novel of 2020 was the sweeping family saga “The Dutch House” by Ann Patchett. A very close second was last year’s top novel “Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens. In non-fiction, these three titles rose to the top: “Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man” by Mary Trump; “Educated: A Memoir” by Tara Westover; and “The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family and Defiance During the Blitz” by Erik Larson.
The buzz surrounding “Two Can Keep a Secret” by Karen McManus helped make this novel about small-town secrets and suspense the most borrowed YA title of 2020. For children’s books, Dog Man was back with “Dog Man: Fetch-22” by Dav Pilkey taking the top spot.
Bethlehem’s most borrowed DVD of 2020 was “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” and gamers checked out the Nintendo Switch title “MarioKart 8” more than any other videogame title.
Some of our Library of Things items were taken out of circulation in 2020 as a pandemic precaution, but those that did go out the door most frequently – laptop computers and WiFi hotspots – reflected the need in our community for digital access as work, school and many aspects of daily life went online.
When it comes to e-books, our top borrows reflect similar trends as the physical books with “Where the Crawdads Sing” and “The Dutch House” once again rising to the top for fiction and “Educated: A Memoir” coming in first for non-fiction. In a departure from its physical counterpart, “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” by Suzanne Collins was the most-borrowed digital YA title. “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” by J.K. Rowling had the most checkouts for children’s e-books and was also the most-borrowed digital audiobook.
Digital magazines, available through OverDrive and Flipster, were a popular distraction in 2020, with People, US Weekly and The New Yorker the most popular of all among Bethlehem patrons.
The library’s streaming video services through Hoopla, Kanopy and OverDrive made high-quality shows and films available without the need to venture from the comfort and safety of home. Most-streamed in 2020 was “Stash Short Film Festival: Comedy” (everyone needed a laugh) and “Force Majeure,” both available through Kanopy. Topping off the children’s streaming titles was the ever-popular “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus.”
While we don’t know what the next year will bring, one thing remains certain: Our borrowers know what they love, and we can’t wait to see what tops the list in 2021.
To check out one of these most-borrowed titles for yourself, visit www.bethlehempubliclibrary.org and search the catalog or click on the eContent button on the homepage to download or stream digital content.
The library will be closed Friday, Jan. 1, for New Year’s Day. We’ll also be closing at 3 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 31. Happy New Year!
— Kristen Roberts