New York Public Library’s top ten checkouts

The New York Public Library will be celebrating its 125th birthday in 2020.

Former first lady Michelle Obama’s autobiography Becoming was the New York Public Library’s (NYPL) most checked out title in 2019.

The full top ten of most borrowed titles:

  1. Becoming by Michelle Obama
  2. Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover
  3. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
  4. A Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult
  5. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
  6. Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
  7. Circe by Madeline Miller
  8. Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty
  9. Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou
  10. Milkman by Anna Burns

The library has also released lists of popular titles for several of its boroughs and branches.

The historical top ten

In addition, the Library has released the top ten historical borrowed titles. A team of experts evaluated a number of key factors including historic checkout and circulation data (for all formats, including e-books), overall trends, current events, popularity, length of time in print, and presence in the library’s catalogue.   

The team identified a number of factors that can contribute to a book’s popularity. For instance, they found that the shorter the book, the more turnover, or circulation it has. That explains why children’s books are often amongst the most circulated. They also concluded that in a multicultural city like NYC, if a book is offered in several languages, it earns a lot more borrows. The multitude of languages in which The Snowy Day is offered at the library contributed to its 485,583 checkout count. Prestigious awards draw attention to books and generate more checkouts, as does appealing to different tastes and being on school lists for many decades.

  1. The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
  2. The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss
  3. 1984 by George Orwell
  4. Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
  5. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  6. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
  7. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  8. How To Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
  9. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
  10. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

The books on this list have transcended generations and, much like the Library itself, are as relevant today as they were when they first arrived. This list tells us something about New Yorkers over the last 125 years — what moves them, what excites them, what stands the test of time." Anthony W. Marx,  NYPL President.

NYPL will be the centre of a year of events to celebrate its 125th birthday.

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