Stories of resilience top 2021 list of most borrowed books at Victoria libraries
As people continue to navigate the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, stories about hope and resilience are in high demand at the Greater Victoria Public Library (GVPL).
Staff at the library say books such as Becoming, an autobiography by former American First Lady Michelle Obama, and the novel Where the Crawdad Sings by Delia Owens were some of the most borrowed books in 2021. They say readers are looking for uplifting stories of how others struggled and overcame their own personal challenges.
“There certainly is a trend towards introspection and also a little bit of escape literature,” said GVPL CEO Maureen Sawa. “When you read, you read not to be alone and I think that (when) reading you discover parts of yourself that maybe you hadn’t had time to consider.”
“Books have always been a source of solace,” she said.
Sawa says she is not surprised by the upsurge in the popularity of the GVPL during the pandemic. She says that people have come to rely on libraries for materials they use at home and have enjoyed coming in to browse the shelves to select a book.
“Reading is such a comfort,” said Sawa. “Someone recently used the term, ‘libraries are hospitals for the mind,’ and I think that’s true as we continue this journey during the pandemic.”
She says that with people remaining close to home as a result of pandemic protocols, people can “travel in their minds to anywhere they want” by reading a book.
Sawa says the demand for audiobooks has also been very high at all 12 branches of the GVPL.
“What we’ve noticed is that some of the books, like the Barack Obama book, continue to be popular because of the audio books,” said Sawa. “People have the opportunity to hear the author actually tell their own story in their own words and that’s been an interesting trend.”
But it wasn’t just books and a “good read” people were seeking to get through the ongoing pandemic. In addition to books, library patrons also borrowed more than 1.8 million digital items, from video games to DVDs, in 2021.
Sawa says the streaming service Netflix has also had an influence on some of the reading choices made by library users.
“Netflix has been dramatizing books that are maybe 10 or 20 years (old) and people are coming to read those books,” said Sawa. “I think people take comfort in the familiar and people are going back to books that they haven’t read in some time that are getting new popularity.”
Sawa says each the most borrowed titles are available are available in all formats, including print, large print, digital and audio-book at the 12 branches of the GVPL.
For the library’s complete “Most Borrowed List” go to the GVPL website.