The Effects of Coronavirus and Black Lives Matter on Boston Public Library Use

Print More

As you might expect, the pandemic has led to a large increase in Boston Public Library e-card signups, and the Black Lives Matter protests led to a huge increase of requests for the most popular anti-racism titles.

"During the [Black Lives Matter] protests in June, we saw over a 500% increase in checkouts and holds on the most popular anti-racism titles including White Fragility, So You Want to Talk about Race, Between the World and Me, The New Jim Crow, and more," said Natasha Fee, Senior Public Relations Associate for the Boston Public Library.

In the two weeks following the first June protests more than 1,200 BPL patrons requested ebooks of White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo, and How to be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi.

And hey, Kendi recently stopped by Jamaica Plain's bookstore Papercuts J.P. when he happened to be walking by the South Street store.

"We’ve continued to see a steady interest in these items and have been purchasing additional copies of in demand titles (for kids and adults) to meet the demand," said Fee.

Those additional copies lowered the number of holds on 125 of the most popular BLM and anti-racism titles from more than 11,000 at the end of June to 7,500 currently.

Across the Boston Public Library system total e-card signups went up 59% since the pandemic began to a total of 166,536, with 35,797 signing up.

Since launching BPL to Go in late June there have been 10,000 requests for items at the JP Branch Library, and 2,337 from the Connolly Branch Library.

‘BPL to Go’ Launches at Jamaica Plain Branch Library

As for the Top 10 books checked out systemwide since March 1, former first lady Michelle Obama tops the list, and is the number one requested book from the JP Branch, and the second most popular book at the Connolly Branch. Albeit children's author Mo Willems continues to dominate the JP branches with five out of the top 10 books at the JP Branch, and three out of the top 10 from the Connolly Branch.

Top 10 books checked out since March 1 - system wide:

Obama, Michelle Becoming
Moriarty, Liane Nine Perfect Strangers
Gladwell, Malcolm Talking to strangers : what we should know about the people we don't know
Atwood, Margaret The testaments
Ng, Celeste Little Fires Everywhere
Owens, Delia Where the Crawdads Sing
Farrow, Ronan Catch and kill : lies, spies, and a conspiracy to protect predators
Westover, Tara Educated
Rooney, Sally Normal People
Reid, Taylor Jenkins Daisy Jones & the Six : a novel

Top 10 books checked out since March 1 - JP Branch:

Obama, Michelle Becoming
Pilkey, Dav Lord of the fleas Lord of the Fleas
Willems, Mo Should I share my ice cream?
Willems, Mo Listen to my trumpet!
Willems, Mo My new friend is so fun!
Pilkey, Dav A tale of two kitties 3
Willems, Mo The thank you book
Owens, Delia Where the Crawdads Sing
Willems, Mo Elephants Cannot Dance!
Beard, George; Hutchins, Harold; Pilkey, Dav Captain Underpants and the invasion of the incredibly naughty cafeteria ladies from outer space (and the subsequent assault of the equally evil lunchroom zombie nerds) Color Edition N003*001

Top 10 books checked out since March 1 - Connolly Branch:

Butler, Octavia E Parable of the sower
Obama, Michelle Becoming
Owens, Delia Where the Crawdads Sing
Pilkey, Dav For whom the ball rolls For Whom the Ball Rolls
Pilkey, Dav Lord of the fleas Lord of the Fleas
Makkai, Rebecca The great believers
Willems, Mo Should I share my ice cream?
Willems, Mo I Love My New Toy!
Patchett, Ann The Dutch house : a novel
Willems, Mo I really like slop!