Royal Oak Public Library sees increase in attendance, circulation

By: Taylor Christensen | Royal Oak Review | Published January 25, 2024

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ROYAL OAK — The Royal Oak Public Library has had a substantial change in attendance and use within the last year.

On Jan. 9, the City Council meeting began with a presentation by Library Director Sandy Irwin. In this presentation, she summarized the fiscal year 2022-23 annual report.

In the year 2021-2022, the library saw 107,144 visitors, and in the past year, 2022-2023, the library had 155,456 visitors.

This increase in visitors has had a corresponding increase in the number of library card holders. The 2022-2023 year had 28,074 cardholders, up from 26,644 the year before.

As of the 2022-23 year, active library cards are at their highest level since 2016.

Along with these positive increases in attendance and cardholders, the library has been consistently finding new ways to reach more patrons.

One of the major additions to the library was becoming a Michigan Electronic Library Catalog, or MeLCat, visiting patron library.

MeLCat is an electronic database giving access to patrons of participating libraries to borrow materials from all over Michigan. The program also delivers the materials to their homes, according to

The library board also approved temporary library cards for unhoused people.

“If a person is unhoused they can get a library card and check out five items at any time,” Irwin said.

The Royal Oak Library has made plenty of changes in the 2023-2024 year. The library has launched its first “exclusive Royal Oak Public Library app” that you can find in the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.

“It’s really great; you can see what you’ve checked out or put stuff on hold,” Irwin said. “It also has a bar code so that you never need to bring your library card again; you can just have it on your phone.”

Irwin also mentioned the home delivery of materials that began in September. This gives patrons who are homebound access to their library needs.

Finally, the library board approved their 2024-2030 capital improvement plan.

“We have plans to spend that millage money (passed in 2022) on improving that building,” Irwin said. The library is planning to fix the boiler, add solar and a new roof.

Circulation has also gone up at the library. The circulation of books was at 425,404 in the 2021-2022 year, and it grew to 572,264 for the 2022-2023 year.

City Commissioner Sharlan Douglas brought up the question of circulation and if it takes into account MeLCat item usage.

“It takes into account all of the books people in Royal Oak are checking out everywhere,” said Irwin. That includes MeLCat.

City Commissioner Brandon Kolo said he loves the library and believes that this presentation serves a good purpose for the community.

“This year has been amazing. The new app is great and it’s made it easier to access materials,” he said. “I believe that has been a mission of the library to innovate, connect and create, and give accessibility to all.”