Update on Audiobooks

At CALS we have long prided ourselves on adjusting to the needs of many while being good stewards of the money that we manage. We have made efforts to offer non-traditional items through our “Library of Things” program where patrons can check out everything from toys and telescopes to tools and fishing poles.

While we have added more physical items that are atypical in nature, we have transitioned some of our traditional offerings from physical to digital formats. While in some instances it has been the choice to “stock” digital copies over physical copies of a particular title, there has been a category that we are moving to eliminate – books on CD.

In 2020, the idea was floated out to begin eliminating books on CD from the CALS collection. There were multiple reasons that this decision made sense. Overall the industry was already moving in that direction; many of our sources no longer offered books on CD. According to the Association of American Publishers, for 2023, only 0.1% of total trades for the year were physical audiobooks. The copies that we were receiving were of low quality and needed to be replaced after being borrowed only a few times. The replacements were of equally low quality if they were able to be found at all.

At that point, CALS chose to redirect funds from books on CDs over to audiobooks on Libby, and last year, began offering more audiobooks through hoopla in order to maintain demand for this particular type of media. In regard to the physical collection of books on CDs, CALS has been consolidating collections as they dwindle due to damage and loss. As of publication, there are 240,000 copies of digital audiobooks available in the CALS collection.

There are around 250 books on CD remaining in the collection that will be removed by the end of June and will be available for purchase during the Summer CALS Used Book Sale.

Last year was the first year in our history that digital circulation exceeded over a million items checked out, in addition to the 1,320,000 physical items checked out. Of those, we had 20,354 books on CD checked out, and 373,187 audiobooks were checked out.

We understand the importance of meeting our patrons’ needs while also adjusting to the technology as it changes around us. If you are looking for audiobooks, know that we have ample titles available through Libby and hoopla. If you are unfamiliar with the technology required to utilize those resources, we have a Digital Literacy team that offers assorted classes as well as free one-on-one tech help for anything you might need.

And as another option, CALS can use ILL; you might think that Interlibrary Loans are just for niche research items, but it’s not! We can borrow anything from our partner libraries – even an audiobook on CD. Learn more about interlibrary loans here.