While bookstore chains are struggling to keep their doors open, the Maricopa Public Library is hitting all-time highs with book check outs. Last June, it had a record of 25,000 books checked out, an increase of 4,000 from a year ago.
It also was one of the busiest months for issuing new cards, with nearly 600.
The library computer stations are typically full and have a waiting list. Inter-library loans — requests in which books are delivered to Maricopa through Pinal County’s library network — also reached an all-time high last month at nearly 1,800.
Pinal County’s “Fun Van” comes by every Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. for families with children 5 years old and younger as part of a literacy program.
“It’s also a portable bookstore,” said Library Director Joe Gunter. “Between 30 and 60 people are showing up and it’s grown in popularity.”
A trio of brothers who are avid readers were at the library on Friday.
“I enjoy reading about history and here you can read it and see it on display,” said Kenneth Ball, 14.
His 16-year-old brother, Takoda, said, “It's out of the heat and somewhere to go.”
And the youngest, 11-year-old Mahcai, added, “I just like checking out the books.”
If there is a downside to the record number of books being checked out, it is more opportunities for more people to be late on their returns and incur fines. For the remainder of this month, however, the library is willing to negotiate.
For each nonperishable food item brought in, the library will knock off a dollar on late fines. Food cannot be exchanged for lost or damaged materials.
“So far, the program has been quite successful,” Gunter said. “We hope to continue working with the food bank on this.”
All donated nonperishables will go to F.O.R. Maricopa, the local food bank.
At a glance:
41600 W. Smith-Enke Drive
9 a.m.-5 p.m. on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday.
11 a.m.-7 p.m. on Monday and Wednesday. Closed on Sundays.
Call the library at 520-568-2926 for questions about the food drive.