Happy 125th Birthday, NYPL: View Their All-Time Top Check Outs

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Rachel Rosenberg

Senior Contributor

Rachel Rosenberg has been writing since she was a child—at 13, she was published alongside celebs and fellow teens in Chicken Soup For the Teenage Soul 2. Rachel has a degree in Creative Writing from Montreal’s Concordia University; she’s been published in a few different anthologies and publications, including Best Lesbian Love Stories 2008, Little Fiction, Big Truth’s Re/Coded anthology and Broken Pencil magazine. She also appeared on the Montreal episode of the Grownups Read Things They Wrote As Kids podcast. Her day job is as a Children’s Librarian, where she digs singing and dancing with small humans.

The New York Public Library recently unveiled a list of its most borrowed books. In case you are wondering how they managed to calculate that info, a team of experts analyzed factors such as historic checkout and circulation data (ebook format included), overall trends and events, popularity, length of time in print, and how long it was in the catalog. Moreover, the library explains other factors too, such as how many languages the book was printed in, or if it won awards or popped up on a school list. All things considered, if you are a library nerd like I am, it’s fascinating.

This list creatively kicks off the system’s 125th anniversary celebrations. They’ve also prepared all sorts of rad events and new merchandise to commemorate the occasion. I spend about 89% of my waking hours wishing I lived in New York, so with these events happening, my yearning will bump up to be all consuming.

There is new merchandise—please cast your eyes upon the super cute tote!—and two special limited edition library cards honoring the 1st place book, which is Ezra Jack Keats’s The Snowy Day. For $1, trade in your regular library card for one featuring an image from The Snowy Day (available throughout the system). Additionally, you can buy a commemorative MetroCard at ten stations across five boroughs. However, they are only available while supplies last.

NYPL has planned a series of programs for all ages, from author talks to branch-specific merriment (creating fake snow for kids, panel discussions for adults). There will also be the reopening of the system’s newly renovated central circulating library and the opening of the Polonsky Exhibition of The New York Public Library Treasures, a permanent, free exhibition that will display items from the Library’s research collections.

Now, what you are really here to learn about is the books and their checkout numbers:

  1. The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats / 485,583 checkouts
  2. The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss / 469,650 checkouts
  3. 1984 by George Orwell / 441,770 checkouts
  4. Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak / 436,016 checkouts
  5. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee  / 422,912 checkouts
  6. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White / 337,948 checkouts
  7. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury / 316,404 checkouts
  8. How To Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie / 284,524 checkouts
  9. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling / 231,022 checkouts
  10. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle / 189,550 checkouts

You can find out more about the top ten here, and read down the list to find out why Margaret Wise Brown’s Goodnight Moon was made an honorable mention. To sum it up, the book might have been number one on the list if not for a very influential hater. Overall, The Snowy Day is a great story and a great early example of diversity in children’s books. Hurray for its victory!