Libraries Are Amazing – Charlottesville’s Northside Library

About 20% of my buyer clients identify “close to a library” as a thing that is important to them when determining where they are going to buy a house.

How do I know this? On my buyer interview, one of the questions is, “What, if anything, do you need/want to be “close” to?”

It’s been a couple years since I stopped into Charlottesville’s Northside Library.

The Northside Library is an amazing place to visit, and the drive through is remarkably well used. I worked at the library one afternoon a bit after 5pm, and watched a steady stream of cars stop by the drive-through window.

The Northside Library is an amazing place to visit, and the drive through is remarkably well used. I worked at the library one afternoon a bit after 5pm, and watched a steady stream of cars stop by the drive-through window.

I asked for some numbers from Northside

Thanks for reaching out about Northside Library. The drive up window is very popular with patrons and it represents about 10-11% of our overall circulation.

It offers people a chance to pick up books without having to find a parking space which has been a real boon for Northside patrons –the parking lot is frequently completely full. We staff it for the hours we are open except it closes the last half hour of the day (to allow circulation staff to assist with the closing procedures).

We checked out almost 6,000 more items from the drive up window this year compared with last year (we use the fiscal year for statistical purposes).

The other interesting circulation statistic is the use of the self check out stations. We went from having one self check out computer to now having four in the new Northside building, and they are utilized frequently.

In fact there are days when the self check out total is higher than the checkout at the manned desk. Overall, self check out is still less than the ‘human’ check out but it is increasingly a significant part of our total circulation.

Crozet and Northside branches do have the highest circulation statistics for self check out use in the system.

In reflecting on your original story and the emphasis on the library offering space for group meetings or single study, I want to add that this has been one of the most significant aspects of the new building.

Northside has one big meeting room and four small conference (or study) rooms which combined get over 300 uses each month. (That is not 300 people–we don’t count how many individuals were using the rooms. We count only how many times the rooms were used.) The study rooms are incredibly popular with tutors, and with small groups who need a meeting space and with individuals who want to study without distractions.

A staff member said “we should have planned for four more of them”! In the spring months the AARP holds their Tax Aide program here in two of the study rooms –assisting people by preparing their tax returns for free. The study rooms and the drive up window probably tie for the most popular features of the new building!


People love libraries.

Anyone remember this tweet from last year?

Nobody goes to libraries anymore. Close the public ones and put the books in schools.

And the blowback to that tweet? It was amazing.

Libraries are amazing. Importantly, my clients (and I) love libraries.

Language aside, this thread on libraries is great.


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  1. Christy Carlson January 8, 2018 at 10:55

    Drive through Library? So very clever, yet kind of lazy..Defeats the whole experience of the library. My personal view on this. I believe change is good, Yet, still believe in some avenues, should be Old Fashioned! You can’t put a new spin, on old traditions.

    1. Jim Duncan January 8, 2018 at 11:18

      Eh … that part of Charlottesville necessitates that feature. The more people using the library, the better.

    2. Julia January 9, 2018 at 12:14

      The Drive up window is great for parents with babies or young children, or adults with mobility issues. It is also nice for busy people who just need to pick something up quickly and get to their next appointment. Many people use both at one time or another.

      1. Jim Duncan January 10, 2018 at 12:18

        I was there again last night around 5:30 and watched a steady stream of just that – parents with kids – rolling through.

    3. Allyson January 11, 2018 at 19:48

      It is very much appreciated by those who have a difficult time with mobility, and with parents with a carful of little ones.


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