The pandemic disrupted many pastimes, but reading has remained a constant pleasure in Polk County, local librarians say. The number of physical books checked out through libraries in Lakeland and the rest of Polk County was largely unchanged from the pre-pandemic period, and circulation of digital books actually increased.

Physical circulations decreased slightly from 2,357,725 in the 2019 fiscal year to 2,331,672 circulations in fiscal 2020 — the year the pandemic started.

Circulations via OverDrive, the libraries’ digital portal, went slightly up from 162,187 in the fiscal year 2019 to 175,383 in the fiscal year 2020. The OverDrive collection contains only 20,272 items.

“In addition to helping folks use our e-platforms (like OverDrive) and keeping our Books by Mail going, we also saw all kinds of outdoor services begin (curb-side, door-side, and walk-up windows),” said Gladys Roberts, the director of the Polk County Library Cooperative.

The Books by Mail service mailed 109,913 items in the fiscal year 2020, up from 87,836 items in the fiscal year 2019.

The fiscal year is Oct. 1 to Sept. 30, so roughly half of the 2020 fiscal year was unaffected by the pandemic, which started showing up in Polk County in March 2020.

“Reference questions were answered online and by phone, and programs went virtual so that nearly all our ‘regular’ public library services have continued on, uninterrupted, throughout the pandemic,” said Roberts. “I’m really proud of our libraries who found very creative and innovative ways to keep getting materials to our patrons.”

Top 10 Ebooks Checked Out from Polk County on Overdrive in 2020

  1. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
  2. Blue Moon: Jack Reacher Series, Book 24 by Lee Child
  3. The Guardians: A Novel by John Grisham
  4. The Giver of Stars: A Novel by Jojo Moyes
  5. Little Fires Everywhere: A Novel by Celeste Ng
  6. Labyrinth: FBI Thriller Series, Book 23 by Catherine Coulter
  7. Becoming by Michelle Obama
  8. Dark Sacred Night: Renée Ballard Series, Book 2 by Michael Connolly
  9. The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
  10. Twisted Twenty-Six: Stephanie Plum Series, Book 26 by Janet Evanovich

Top 10 Audiobooks Checked Out from Polk County on Overdrive in 2020

  1. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone: Harry Potter Series, Book 1 by J.K. Rowling
  2. American Dirt : A Novel by Jeanine Cummins
  3. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
  4. Girl, Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies About Who You Are so You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be by Rachel Hollis
  5. The Guardians: A Novel by John Grisham
  6. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
  7. Beaches, Bungalows & Burglaries: Camper and Criminals Cozy Mystery Series, Book 1 by Tonya Kappes
  8. The Hunger Games: The Hunger Games Series, Book 1 by Suzanne Collins
  9. Look Alive Twenty-Five: Stephanie Plum Series, Book 25 by Janet Evanovich
  10. Walk the Wire: Amos Decker Series, Book 6 by David Baldacci

Top 10 Fiction Ebooks & Audiobooks (Released in 2020) Checked Out from Polk County on Overdrive in 2020

  1. Camino Winds by John Grisham
  2. The Boy From the Woods by Harlan Coben
  3. Walk the Wire: Amos Decker Series, Book 6 by David Baldacci
  4. The Country Guesthouse by Robyn Carr
  5. American Dirt: A Novel by Jeanin Cummins
  6. The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel
  7. The Numbers Game by Danielle Steel
  8. The 20th Victim (Women’s Murder Club) by James Patterson
  9. Masked Prey (A Prey Novel Book 30) by John Sandford
  10. Bloody Genius (A Virgil Flowers Novel) by John Sandford

Top 10 Nonfiction Ebooks & Audiobooks (Released in 2020) Checked Out from Polk County on Overdrive in 2020

  1. Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created The World’s Most Dangerous Man by Mary L. Trump
  2. The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz by Erik Larson
  3. Untamed by Glennon Doyle
  4. The House of Kennedy by James Patterson
  5. The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir by John Bolton
  6. Open Book: A Memoir by Jessica Simpson
  7. The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, 10 Anniversary Edition by Michelle Alexander
  8. Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of An American Family by Robert Kolker
  9. Disloyal: A Memoir: The True Story of the Former Personal Attorney to President Donald J. Trump by Michael Cohen
  10. The Answer Is…Reflections On My Life by Alex Trebek

Top 10 Juvenile & Young Adult Ebooks & Audiobooks Checked Out from Polk County on Overdrive in 2020

  1. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes: The Hunger Games Series by Suzanne Collins
  2. Midnight Sun: Twilight Series, Book 5 by Stephanie Meyer
  3. Ali Cross: Ali Cross Series, Book 1 by James Patterson
  4. Reverie by Ryan La Sala
  5. Wrecking Ball (Diary of a Wimpy Kid Book 14) by Jeff Kinney
  6. One of Us Is Next: The Sequel to One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus
  7. Skyward: Skyward Series, Book 1 by Brandon Sanderson
  8. The Betrothed by Kiera Cass
  9. The One and Only Bob by Katherine Applegate
  10. The Deep End (Diary of a Wimpy Kid Book 15) by Jeff Kinney

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Jason is an intern from Florida Polytechnic University.

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