The Maple Acre branch, in Fenwick, of the Pelham Public Library. VOICE FILE

What percentage of Pelham has a library card

A Library Board member’s inaccurate assertion last week that only one member of Pelham Town Council possessed a library card got us wondering. How many residents in Pelham are, in fact, cardholders?

Before the answer, a bit of backstory.

When the library moved to a new database, in 2010, it assigned five-year expiry periods for cards, which was typical for the times, says Acting CEO Amy Guilmette.

Since five years between visits would hardly qualify someone as a regular library patron, the expiry period was later dropped to one year, where it remains today. In addition to being a better measure of actual patronage, this also allowed for more accurate updating of contact information in an era when email addresses and phone numbers are often changing.

Guilmette says that in 2018, the library reported to the province that it had 4,077 active cardholders—i.e., patrons who used their card at least once in the previous 12 months—or approximately 24% of Pelham’s population.

“That doesn’t include the many residents who don’t use a card to check out materials, but instead simply come in to chat, read the newspaper, attend programs, use the computers, or job search,” says Guilmette. “Or the many families that only use one card for everyone.”

Guilmette says that the one-year limit “probably helped us rank first [in Ontario] in our population grouping—15,000-30,000—in 2018 for circulation per cardholder…and second for circulation by population.”

It turns out that council is actually ahead of Pelham’s cardholder percentage, with two of six councillors—33%—having cards.

When asked by the Voice, Councillors Marianne Stewart and Bob Hildebrandt confirmed that they possessed library cards.

“I do indeed have a library card,” responded Stewart. “I’ve had one here since 1980, the year I moved to Pelham. I signed up, along with my family, when the library was in the lower level of the Town Hall. As I stated at the meeting, I have also participated over 20 years in fundraising for the Maple Acre branch.”

Councillor Mike Ciolfi said that he did not have a card.

“That being said, I also do not visit Lookout Park, but I made it a priority to ensure that the kids in that neighbourhood have a park to play in and the playground equipment that they expected.”

At last Wednesday’s meeting, Mayor Junkin said he preferred to find books at Chapters.

Councillors Lisa Haun, John Wink, and Ron Kore did not respond.


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