Fascinating Facts: 2019 in Review

Written by Erin, staff member, Collection Development

Note: These stats do not include all of December 2019.

Curious about your Library? 2019 was one for the books! Here are some fun facts and trends about borrowing and usage from the past year.

Borrows, visits, and answers

Halifax Public Libraries has over 730,000 items to borrow. And in 2019, items were borrowed over 3.2 million times! 2019 was not only a busy year for borrowing—our branches saw over 2.8 million visitors, and community members asked Library staff for help finding their next read over 130,000 times. And to top it off, our Interlibrary Loan team borrowed over 5,600 items from other library systems for our users.

Interesting observations


Most popular genre: From cozy couch mysteries to cliffhanging whodunits, Mystery takes the win for print books! However, when it comes to e-book demand, romance rises to the top.

Most popular Non-Fiction subject: Folks in HRM are passionate about biographies and autobiographies, both in print and e-book. Reading about someone’s experience, culture, and history can provide a lot of insight into the world around us.

Trends: It’s been a big year for books on veganism, vegetarianism, and zero waste sustainability—they are flying off our shelves!  And, while cookbooks are always in demand at the Library, this year saw Instant Pot cookbooks outshine the others. (View our Food & Cooking section for more inspiration and upcoming events.)


Most popular collection: From whimsical stories to serious life lessons, picture books are the most borrowed children’s books. You’re never too old to enjoy a picture book!

Most popular Non-Fiction subject: Social sciences tops the charts for youth of all ages (teens too!). Included in this subject area are books on the environment, cultures, activism, bullying, and social media.

Trends: Of our three graphic novel collections (Children, Teen, and Adult), children’s graphic novels are the most borrowed. We can’t keep them on our shelves! Reading graphic novels takes skill—simultaneously reading the words, the graphics, and the white space between panels (where all that is not said is said)—and the children of HRM have the skills.


Streaming services have not dampened our love of DVDs. In 2019, DVDs were borrowed over 930,000 times.

Top picks: Action movies are the most borrowed genre of adult DVDs and comedies are the most borrowed genre of children’s DVDs.

Digital materials

While our customers still prefer print material, the demand for our e-book and downloadable audiobook collection is growing by leaps and bounds. OverDrive saw over 840,000 checkouts in 2019, while RBdigital came in at over 100,000, and hoopla had over 18,000.