The Multnomah County Library Set a Record for Digital Circulation Last Year

We love the library—and in Portland, it often feels as if the library loves us back.

Holds pickup station at Hollywood branch of Multnomah County Library, 4040 NE Tillamook St. (Brian Burk)

In 2020, Multnomah County Library patrons broke a record.

More than 4 million e-books and audiobooks were checked out from the county library last year, the highest digital circulation the system has ever seen.

Even though libraries around the globe saw spikes in checkouts during the pandemic, Portland still stood out—Multnomah County had one of the 10 largest digital circulations worldwide, according to the company behind library app Libby.

And in Portland, it often feels as if the library loves us back.

Over the summer, the library announced it was forever doing away with late fees and cleared all existing fines. Coming a few days into protests against racism and police brutality, amid conversations about investing in communities rather than punitive justice, the timing felt especially meaningful.

It didn't seem coincidental, either. A press release announced that ending fines was "just one way the library is taking immediate action."

Clearly, social justice was on the minds of library patrons, too. Layla F. Saad's Me and White Supremacy was the overall top-circulating digital title, and How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi made it into the top two for both e-book and audiobook checkouts.

But to paraphrase writers like Saida Grundy, antiracist reading is just reading if it's not followed by action. In a sense, that's another thing Portlanders can learn from our library—while we're working toward bigger change, there are plenty of everyday things we can fix.

See all 24 Reasons to Still Love Portland here!

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