Nelson Public Library’s chief librarian Tracey Therrien (left) and board chair Anni Holtby. Photo: Submitted

Nelson Public Library’s chief librarian Tracey Therrien (left) and board chair Anni Holtby. Photo: Submitted

CHECK THIS OUT: Numbers at the Nelson Public Library

Avi Silberstein writes about some key stats about use of the library

by Avi Silberstein

I love numbers. I have ever since I was a kid. While the rest of the world is doing Wordle, I’ve moved onto the math version of it: Nerdle. (OK fine, I’m still doing Wordle. And Quordle. And Heardle. And so on.)

All this to say that when the library released its 2021 Annual Report this month, my eyes were immediately drawn to the stats:

• 165,157 physical items borrowed

• 48,472 e-books and e-audiobooks downloaded

It’s true, the report has some great testimonials: “I love the Nelson Public Library for the personal connections I’ve made through programs and clubs” and “I love the library because everyone is welcome and there is something for everyone, from ukuleles to radon detectors to book clubs for every age.”

But still, those stats call out to me:

• 210 programs and events (in-person and online)

• 8,799 attendees/viewers

The report starts off with a wonderful message from the chief librarian and board chair, touching on the library’s many efforts at collaboration, from our partnerships with neighbouring libraries to the Kootenay Library Federation, from Nelson at its Best to the Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy, from the Nelson Community Food Centre to the Kootenay Career Development Society.

“As the library continued to adjust and respond to a pandemic, heat dome and smoky skies during 2021, we kept true to our priorities of community connections, spaces to connect, and sustainability. Collaboration is deemed an important value to guide our amazing services and board development,” notes board chair Anni Holtby.

And once again, I’m drawn to the numbers:

• 768 new library members

• 57,121 website visits

My hope is that the rest of you won’t be as drawn to the numbers. I hope, for instance, that you let your eyes wander down to the bottom right-hand side of page 3, where we list some of what’s been new at the library: Tech Hub rooms, GoPros, Chromebooks, puzzles, anti-bullying kit, anti-racism kit, outdoor games, board games, and so on.

Or at the very least, you should read about the future of our library: 2021 was the final year of our five-year strategic plan, which means that this year the Library Board and staff will be connecting with our partners and residents (that’s you!) to hear about what you value most about the library and where you picture the library in the next five years.

Give that some thought. Then get back to the 2021 Annual Report (available online at and read about our program highlights. See what our most popular books were in each age group.

As for me, you’ll find me buried in the numbers, trying to calculate how many items were borrowed per library member, per visit — carry the zero, multiply by 5/9, wait I’ve almost got it…

Avi Silberstein is the children’s librarian at the Nelson Public Library. Check This Out runs every other week. If you’re interested in learning more about library programs and services, sign up for our monthly newsletter on our website or by giving us a call.