Library News: Top 10 checkouts of all time at the New York Public Library

By Carole Howard
PREVIEW Columnist, and the library staff
Since the New York Public Library’s founding in 1895, millions of books have been checked out by patrons of all ages. To honor the library’s 125th anniversary, staff evaluated key factors to determine the most borrowed books ever. Here is their list:
1. “The Snowy Day” by Ezra Jack Keats: 485,583 checkouts. In print since 1962, this beautifully illustrated story of a child enjoying the simple magic that snow brings to his city is one of the library’s most popular books every year.
2. “The Cat in the Hat” by Dr. Seuss: 469,650 checkouts. Instantly popular when it was first published in 1957, this book is a perennial first checkout for a youngster as parents remember it fondly and want to read it to their children.
3. “1984” by George Orwell: 441,770 checkouts. This book has been a regular on high school reading lists since its publication in 1949. The recent popularity of dystopian fiction such as “The Hunger Games” increased interest in this classic of the genre.
4. “Where the Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak: 436,016 checkouts. Often praised for showing children how cope with their emotions, this award-winning book has been in print since 1963 and is always included on school lists.
5. “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee: 422,912 checkouts. This Pulitzer Prize-winning book has been a perennial favorite on middle and high school reading lists since it first was published in 1960. Its popularity increased when it was made into a movie and a play.
6. “Charlotte’s Web” by E.B. White: 337,948 checkouts. This magical story of friendship and loss is beloved by children and adults alike. In print since 1952, Wilbur and Charlotte have tugged at heartstrings for many generations of readers.
7. “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury: 316,404 checkouts. Another regular on high school reading lists, this 1953 novel about destroying books continues to be one of the most popular titles every year. As with “1984,” its popularity spikes based on current events and the appeal of dystopian fiction.
8. “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie: 284,524 checkouts. In constant circulation since 1936 and one of the bestselling books of all time, it is the ultimate self-help book.
9. “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” by J.K. Rowling: 231,022 checkouts. The only way a book published in the 1990s could make it to this list, competing with books published decades ago, is if it were a phenomenon — which this fantasy series certainly is. Expect more of the six Harry Potter books to make the list in upcoming years.
10. “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle: 189,550 checkouts. In print since 1969, this is a favorite among librarians and teachers. It’s a staple for kids learning to read.
How does a book make it to this prestigious list? One factor is its length; the shorter the book, the more turnover, which explains why so many children’s books are here. Also, the longer the book has been in print, the more time it’s been available for checkout — and the more languages a title is available in helps as well. Other factors: the universal appeal of the story, the effect of current events on adult books, being included on school lists, and winning awards or being turned into films.
Needless to say, all these books are available at your Sisson Library for your reading pleasure.

Pagosa history today
We hope you will join us today, Thursday, Feb. 6, for a free special event when the Southern Ute Cultural Center will present Pagosa stories from 10 to 11 a.m.
Hanley Frost, the cultural education coordinator for the Southern Ute Cultural Center, will share stories about the history and culture of the Pagosa area and why knowledge about the rich Native American heritage of this region is important and interesting.
We are fortunate to live in an area that is rich in history. Our town sits on land historically belonging to the Southern Ute tribe and we have much to learn from this heritage. This is an all-ages event. No registration is required.

Save the date for
anti-Valentine’s lock-in
Those ages 12-17 are invited to a fun event with food, games, crafts and movies from 5 to 7 p.m. next Friday, Feb. 14. You must have a permission slip to participate. Details are in the February teen/tween calendar and will be in next week’s “Library News” column.

Save the date for fun family event
We hope you will mark your calendars for Sunday, Feb. 23, for a fun Lanes and Links family-friendly community event from 1 to 4 p.m., when your library will be transformed into a miniature golf and bowling center for one day only. The cost is $10 per person or $30 per family, with tickets sold at the door. All net proceeds from the event will support the library’s programs and resources.

All-ages gaming tomorrow
Join us tomorrow, Friday, Feb. 7, from 2:30 to 3:45 p.m. for a free all-ages gaming session where you can enjoy video gaming on Wii and Xbox 360 Kinect with your friends and family.

LEGO Club Saturday
Kids ages 6-12 are invited to bring your imaginations — LEGOs are provided — this Saturday, Feb. 8, from 11 a.m. to noon for the free LEGO Club.

Computer class
Monday, Feb. 10, from 1-2 p.m. covers basic Excel spreadsheets. No registration is required.

Knitting Club for teens and adults
On Monday, Feb. 10, this free club meets from 4 to 5 p.m. for fourth-graders to adults. Bring your knitting, crochet or needlepoint projects. If you don’t know how to knit, come anyway and we’ll get you started on some of the basics.

Ruby’s Book Club
Our free book club for adults — now known as Ruby’s Book Club — meets the second Tuesday of each month from 2 to 3 p.m. to discuss alternating fiction and nonfiction titles.
On Feb. 11, we will discuss “Barracoon: The Story of the Last ‘Black Cargo’” by Zora Neale Hurston. Stop by to pick up a copy. Light refreshments will be served. No registration is required.

Teen gaming
Free teen gaming happens on Tuesdays from 4 to 5:30 p.m. for teens in the sixth through 12th grades. Enjoy Xbox 360 Kinect, Wii and snacks.

Teen role-playing
The free role-playing game for seventh- through 12th-graders takes place next Wednesday, Feb. 12, from 4 to 5:30 p.m. Use your imagination to go on adventures and battle monsters. You can join this group any time.

ESL classes twice a week
Free English as a Second Language (ESL) classes take place on Tuesdays from 5 to 7 p.m. and Fridays from noon to 2 p.m. The classes are led by two highly experienced teachers — Joyce Holdread for the intermediate/advanced group and Ellynn Ragone for beginners. No registration is required.
Las clases son dos veces por semana
Las clases gratuitas de inglés como segundo idioma (ESL) ocurren los martes de 5-7 p.m. y los viernes de 12-2 p.m. Las clases son dirigidas por dos instructoras altamente experimentadas — Joyce Holdread enseña al grupo intermedio/avanzado y Ellen Ragone enseña a los principiantes. No es necesario registrarse.

Adult education
Our free PALS (Pagosa Adult Learning Services) accelerated GED course takes place Mondays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Thursdays from 2 to 7 p.m. Come to your library to get help from Mark with high school equivalency, GED, college prep, financial aid, tutoring and more.

“Tracking the Wild Coombs” by Robert Cocuzzo is a biography of the legendary skier Doug Coombs. “Super Human” by Dave Asprey offers tools to help you age slowly with more energy and brainpower. “The Impossible First” is a memoir about his recovery from a tragic accident to his solo crossing of Antarctica by Colin O’Brady.

Mysteries, thrillers and suspense
“Hindsight” by Iris and Roy Johansen features an investigator with unique skills because she was blind for the first 20 years of her life. “Agency” by William Gibson, who firm coined the term cyberspace, is a sci-fi thriller heavily influenced by current events. “A Longer Fall” by Charlaine Harris is the second book in the Gunnie Rose series about life as an alternate U.S. “Mr. Nobody” by Catherine Steadman is a psychological thriller that begins when an unidentified man is found almost dead on a British beach. “Big Lies in a Small Town” by Diane Chamberlain features a mural in a small town that hides secrets. “House on Fire” by Joseph Finder features PI Nick Heller.

Other novels
“A Long Petal of the Sea” by Isabel Allende follows two young people as they flee the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War. “Dear Edward” by Ann Napolitano follows a 12-year-old sole survivor of a plane crash. “When We Were Vikings” by Andrew David MacDonald follows a 21-year-old unlikely heroine who is a Viking enthusiast.

“Erosion” by Terry Tempest Williams writes about the continuing assault on America’s public lands and the erosion of our commitment to democracy, science, compassion and trust.

Thanks to our donors
For their generous donations, we are grateful to Don Hale, Dick Ray, and Joanne and Vic Lucariello. For books and materials this week, we thank our anonymous donors.

Quotable quote
“Be sure you put your feet in the right place, then stand firm.” — Abraham Lincoln.

For more information on library books, services and programs — and to reserve books, e-books, CDs and DVDs from the comfort of your home — please visit our website at

This story was posted on February 6, 2020.