Christmas is almost here, and since I’m a guy who enjoys a jolly good festive activity, I’m taking the opportunity to do a mirthful exercise with library stats. Not that any of us should need much help feeling the Christmas spirit in a society that bludgeons us from all angles with yuletide tidings, but should we find ourselves craving a further holiday fix, books are an excellent source (at least, they are for writers and readers of a library-related blog, which we all are, so just go with the premise).
I did some spreadsheet combing and found that in the library’s new books and adult fiction collections, we own a combined 62 books with the word “Christmas” in the title.* As of yesterday (12/20/13), 22 of those books were either checked out or on hold awaiting checkout. That comes out to 35.48% of our Christmas books currently being in the hands of merry readers, which is a healthy percentage, but one lower than I expected. I mean, this is primo time for those books to be read. If they aren’t being checked out at this time of year, when are they being read? Are they ever? Could it be that Benbrook is filled with literary Scrooges?
The answers to those questions, in reverse order, are nope, you betcha, and all the livelong year. To my surprise, non-new Christmas books (I didn’t include the new ones because the circulation stats of newer items are always skewed due to their initial stay in the display area) are checked out an average of 5.51 times per year, which compares favorably to the 4.78 mark for the fiction collection as a whole. Not only do these books circulate well, some of them were last checked out during decidedly un-Christmasy months like April and June. So, people aren’t saving their Christmas reading for November and December, which slightly boggles my mind. To me, reading a Christmas book in June is like listening to Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out” on September 1st. Or wearing your Hawaiian shirt to work on Monday if you’re employed as anything other than a surfing instructor. Or eating birthday cake after your birthday (okay, that’s a terrible example. Birthday cake is delicious and acceptable to consume at any time). My point is, reading a Christmas story when Christmas isn’t fast approaching just seems like a tease to me. Perhaps I’m too rigid.** It seems the patrons of BPL enjoy a good Noel tale all year round. Y’all are the anti-Scrooges. Bless you, everyone.
*I realize there are Christmas books without “Christmas” in the title, but finding them all would make this a far too time-consuming exercise.
**This is extremely likely.