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Knox County Public Libraries sees rise in use as COVID-19 pandemic downgraded

Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs said book borrowing from libraries is above pre-pandemic levels.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The Knox County Public Libraries have seen an upward trend of visitors as it recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. Nelda Hill, the Assistant Director for Public Services, said the number of people using their online collections has nearly doubled.

"At the beginning of the pandemic, we had about 35,000 people who were using our e-book and downloadable audio collections. As of yesterday, we had about 66,000 people using those collections," Hill said. 

Derrick Washington, a Knox County librarian, also struck down people’s claims that libraries would be a dying industry during the digital age.

"Think about what people thought, with the digital age, everything was gonna go downhill. 'Oh no, no one's gonna check out a book anymore.' But that has been proven wrong," Washington said. 

As libraries continue to grow, Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs said the system has over 150,000 cardholders and a growing collection of over a million items. 

"Our goal is to offer something to everybody and anybody, and do it with excellence," Washington said. 

As the national COVID-19 emergency comes to a close, Knox County libraries are happy to see new and old faces return. 

"It's getting back to pre-pandemic levels, and we're seeing people we've not seen before, and we're very happy," Hill said. "It's important because it's one of the places where people of all ages all demographics, all socioeconomic levels, everyone comes to the public library." 

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