The AskMN FY21 Report has been published and it highlights heavy usage of the service by libraries throughout this past pandemic year. The report shows data from the Minitex fiscal year, July 1, 2020 – June 30, 2021, which was encompassed by the pandemic. With work-from-home and distance learning most libraries were closed to the public for most of the year if not the whole year. With a new software platform in place, AskMN libraries took advantage of all the new software had to offer to extend services to patrons in an online environment. Overall, there was a 53% increase in usage from FY20 from 42,256 to 64,836 in FY21.
AskMN libraries relied heavily on the new platform as a focal point of communication with their patrons as the service saw usage almost double from two years ago. From FY20 to FY21 academic libraries saw an impressive 133% increase in usage while public libraries also saw a large increase of 39% usage.
With this increase in usage libraries carved out new paths to meet patrons at their point of need by picking up their own patrons almost 70% of the time with the other 30% being assisted by the 24/7 Reference Cooperative. The 30% assistance was mostly seen in the “after hours” when Minnesota library staff are no longer available. This has been a consistent average throughout our work with the 24/7 Reference Cooperative and shows that AskMN libraries adjusted their services to meet this demand.