Classic texts and e-books in demand at libraries

Think about the students in your classroom. Is there a particular novel students pick up year after year when reading for pleasure? Is there a book in your school library that consistently has a waitlist? Or, are students continually picking up a variety of new texts? What information do you turn to, to recommend new books to students?

The 2021 Civica Libraries Index has provided insight into the books students are reaching for most frequently. Civica has analysed data from 104 regional and metropolitan libraries in Australia and New Zealand, which included 34 million loans between the beginning of April in 2020 and the end of March in 2021. Their analysis has revealed the most popular books in various categories – from children’s books to young adult novels.

‘Libraries played an important role throughout lockdowns last year as a rich source of much needed escapism. While many people continued to borrow physical books, we also saw an uptick in the number of e-loans,’ Iain Finlayson, Managing Director of Libraries and Education Solutions at Civica, says.

Borrowers embrace e-books

The index is in its sixth year now, and the data for 2021 show that the COVID-19 pandemic had an impact on our reading habits. Across the country, a steep increase in e-book loans was observed by libraries. For example, Civica note that Ipswich Libraries in Queensland saw an 80 per cent increase in e-audio downloads, 67 per cent increase in e-book loans and 120 per cent increase in e-magazine downloads.

ACT Libraries observed a 35 per cent increase overall in e-book and e-audio loans across their nine libraries, and Hutt City Libraries in New Zealand witnessed a 41 per cent increase in e-book loans and 40 per cent increase in e-audio loans for their eight libraries.

‘We should expect this trend to continue to be part of citizen borrowing patterns moving forward and it will be important for libraries to continue to have a digital presence to meet citizen’s evolving expectations,’ Finlayson says.

Fiction texts most borrowed by children

The books borrowed most in the children’s books category for this year are quite a different mix from the previous index which analysed loans from 2018-19. The 2021 index lists five authors in the top 10 list for books most borrowed by children, compared to the last index where just two authors – Andy Griffiths and Jeff Kinney – were named. The 2021 list is also filled with quite recent publications, with the oldest text, The 91-story treehouse, published only 4 years ago in 2017.

The Scent Keeper by Erica Bauermeister topped the list for books most borrowed by children this year. Three books from Australian author Anh Do made the top 10, and Griffith’s and Kinney’s popular Treehouse and Diary of a Wimpy Kid series made the list once again. Here is the full top 10:

  1. The Scent Keeper – Erica Bauermeister
  2. Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Wrecking Ball – Jeff Kinney
  3. Vote WeirDo – Anh Do
  4. Weirdomania! – Anh Do
  5. The 117-storey Treehouse – Andy Griffiths
  6. Dog Man: Fetch-22 – Dav Pilkey
  7. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Meltdown – Jeff Kinney
  8. Diary of an Awesome Friendly Kid: Rowley Jefferson’s Journal – Jeff Kinney
  9. The 91-story Treehouse – Andy Griffiths
  10. Ninja clones! – Anh Do

Fiction texts most borrowed by young adults

Those reading young adult texts seem to be sticking to the classics. Two books from the Harry Potter series were named in the top 10 list for this category, and Catching Fire from the Hunger Games series, published in 2009, came in at number five.

Unlike the children’s books category, there are no Australian authors featured in this category. However, this list certainly has more variety, with only one author listed twice. Here are the books that made up the top 10:

  1. Robin Hood: Piracy, Paintballs & Zebras – Robert Muchamore
  2. One of us is next – Karen McManus
  3. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – J.K. Rowling
  4. Wonder – R.J. Palacia
  5. Catching Fire – Suzanne Collins
  6. We Were Liars – E.Lockhart
  7. Five Feet Apart – Rachael Lippincott
  8. The Hate U Give – Angie Thomas
  9. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – J.K. Rowling
  10. The Tatooist of Auschwitz – Heather Morris

To explore more data uncovered in Civica’s 2021 Libraries Index, access the information at the Australian Library and Information Association’s website.

The 2021 Civica Libraries Index observed a considerable increase in the number of texts borrowed in e-book and e-audio format.

Think about the library in your school, and book displays that exist outside of the library. How many texts do you offer in e-book and e-audio format? Are you actively encouraging students to borrow texts in this format? Could you use these text formats to encourage more students to borrow from the library?