A look back on 2023 at the Fort Worth Public Library

Published on January 02, 2024

In the past 12 months, the Fort Worth Public Library has experienced a lot of changes, from the opening of the Vivian J. Lincoln Library in far southwest Fort Worth to the closing of the Central Library in downtown. Some things have remained constant: a commitment to offer resources and activities to inform, educate and entertain Fort Worth residents of all ages.

How fun was found

a photo of participants at the east regional library painting club The Library offers activities for all ages, from learning opportunities to fun programs. Residents took advantage of the many story times that focus on particular ages and stages, starting with Baby Story Times and leading into Preschool Story Times and Family Story Times in English and Spanish. From December 2022 to November 2023, the Library conducted 1,736 story times that drew 33,330 visitors.

fort worth fire chief reading to children at the ridglea branch library Storybook characters Pete the Cat and Llama Llama made special appearances at a total of 12 story times to greet more than 1,751 eager fans. There were a few human special guests, too, including Fort Worth fire and police chiefs as well as firefighters and police officers. The 13 fire and police story times drew a total of nearly 600 guests.

For teens, the one-day ABCs of Babysitting course is designed to prepare young caregivers to more safely and effectively supervise younger siblings or start their own babysitting businesses. Topics covered include diaper-changing, CPR training and best business practices. In 2023, the 12 classes at library locations across the city helped prepare more than 100 teens to be better caregivers.

Teen Robotics, which provides a fast track into the world of simple robot design and coding, found 37 fans at the six programs conducted in 2023. Both the babysitting course and robotics programs are among activities supported by the Fort Worth Public Library Foundation, which directs donations from the community to enhance the library’s offerings.

Adults had a host of opportunities to meet with peers to simply talk or engage in a favorite hobby. The Painting Club at the East Regional Library (pictured) in particular drew many attendees - adults and other participants of all ages - to its regular Monday night meetings. 

Join the club

Of the 20 in-person book clubs for adults hosted by Fort Worth libraries, a total of 1,029 people attended 142 meetings in the past year after having read a combined total of 145 books. In Fort Worth, casual book clubs promote fellowship among readers who enjoy reading a particular genre and discussing what they took away from a particular story.

Screenshot of the Stay at Home Book Club Facebook grup The Stay at Home Book Club, a Facebook group that launched out of necessity during the pandemic, has continued to grow and thrive with 1,162 members, an addition of 78 participants this year. Club members vote on a book from a selection of titles with unlimited digital checkouts and then discuss it online. The club caters to avid readers who may be too busy to attend in-person meetings but still crave to be part of a community of readers. Members read 16 books this year and the club has read 67 books since its inception.

Two other virtual adult programs continue to thrive post-pandemic as well. The long-running What Fort Worth Reads is a weekly livestream on Instagram featuring Fort Worth librarians who discuss popular book titles. There were 1,055 people who tuned in live each week. A more trivial pursuit is Tuesday Night Trivia, which drew 664 people to test their knowledge with fellow online fact-heads.

The place for lifelong learning

The Fort Worth Public Library’s free computer classes saw 1,135 people attend the 683 classes offered in 2023, ranging from a focus on a particular skill or software and also general computer use.

photo of HSE program graduates For Spanish-speakers pursuing their high school equivalency certificate, dedicated library teachers offer a free online program to prepare them for the four tests required to earn it. There were 182 classes and programs offered with a total of 2,504 attending – an average of 14 students per class. Those who earn their certificate have the chance to be honored at a special graduation ceremony (pictured). 

Adults whose first language is anything other than English have enjoyed casual, conversational classes that help them practice their English-speaking skills. The total of 480 classes offered at locations across the city saw 6,039 people participate.

For people who want to become U.S. citizens, a new Civics for Citizenship class helps prepare them to take their citizenship exam. Launched this past April at just two locations, more than 232 people have attended the classes this year.

A new initiative for people who want to learn to speak Spanish was launched at two locations in September, with plans to expand. There were 167 people who attended those in the past few months.

A library of things

The Library has offered musical instruments and a host of kits to check out and take home. In 2023, non-book items added for checkout included a GPS unit, karaoke machine and metal detector for adults. Teens can check out resources through ABCs of Babysitting kits with similar resources to the one-day classes offered in the past year. New kits for children include backpacks to support the 1000 Books Before Kindergarten initiative and Libros escolares de Mexico kits featuring books provided by the Mexican Consulate.

What Fort Worth is reading in print

Library cardholders clearly love to read. In the past 12 months, they checked out and took home more than 1.7 million printed books.

most popular books for children and teens These children’s books published in 2023 were the favorites:
- Pete the Cat Saves Up, by Kimberly and James Dean
- Wonder Woman Sisters Save the Day! by Lois Evans
- The Sky’s the Limit! (Minecraft) by Nick Eliopulos
- Pete the Kitty’s Outdoor Art Project by Kimberly and James Dean
- Sweet Dance Party! (Dreamworks Trolls) by Barbara Laman

The most-checked-out 2023 titles for teens were:
- The Assassin Game by Kirsty McKay
- You’re Not Supposed to Die Tonight by Kaylnn Bayron
- The Stolen Heir: Novel of Elfhame by Holly Black
- Going Dark by Melissa De la Cruz
- Midnight Strikes by Zeba Shahnaz

most popular books for adults published in 2023 The top 5 adult books published in 2023 were:
- 3 Days to Live by James Patterson
- Spare by Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex
- Countdown: A Thriller by James Patterson
- Vince Flynn’s Code Red by Kyle Mills
- The Wager: A Tale of Shipwreck, Mutiny and Murder by David Grann

Graphic novels continue to find fans of all ages. These children’s titles were the most popular:
- Dog Man by Dav Pilkey
- The Baby-sitters Club by Ann M. Martin
- Pokémon Adventures: Black & White by Hidenori Kusaka
- Cat Kid Comic Club by Dav Pilkey
- Pokémon Adventures: Diamond and Pearl by Hidenori Kusaka

The top graphic novels for teens were:
- Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba by Koyoharu Gotoge
- My Hero Academia by Kōhei Horikoshi
- Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon by Naoko Takeuchi
- Dragon Ball by Akira Toriyama
- Dragon Ball Super by Akira Toriyama

Adults enjoyed these graphic novels most often in the past year:
- Bungo Stray Dogs by Kafka Asagiri
- I Am a Hero Omnibus by Kengo Hanazawa
- Goodnight Punpun by Inio Asano
- JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure by Hirohiko Araki
- Spy X Family by Tatsuya Endo

What Fort Worth read digitally

The Fort Worth Public Library’s digital circulation increased by 17 percent over 2022, with a total of 1.45 million items checked out. The number of unique users increased by 13 percent to 41,846 cardholders, and new users increased by 5 percent to add 13,847 newcomers to the system in 2023.

The top five Adult digital fiction titles published in 2023 were:
- Fourth Wing by Rebeca Yarros
- The Only One Left by Riley Sager
- The House in the pines by Ana Reyes
- Iron Flame by Rebecca Yarros
- The Covenant of Water by Abraham Verghese

The top five adult digital nonfiction titles published in 2023 were:
- Spare by Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex
- The Woman in Me by Britney Spears
- Counting the Cost by Jill Duggar
- All My Knotted-Up Life: A Memoir by Beth Moore
- Becoming Free Indeed by Jinger Vuolo

The top five children’s digital fiction titles published in 2023 were:
- The Chalice of the Gods (Percy Jackson) by Rick Riordan
- The Sun and the Star: A Nico di Angelo Adventure by Rick Riordan
- Twenty-Thousand Fleas Under the Sea (Dog Man) by Dave Pilkey
- No Brainer (Diary of a Wimpy Kid) by Jeff Kinney
- Rhinos at Recess (Magic Tree House) by Mary Pope Osbourne

The top five children’s digital nonfiction titles published in 2023:
- Above the Trenches by Nathan Hale
- Work it out: How to Resolve Conflict by Sloane Hughes
- Pokémon by Betsy Rathburn
- Drawing Chibi: Learn How to Draw Kawaii People, Animals and Other Utterly Cute Stuff by Kikai Anime
- (tie) Mexidkid by Pedro Martin and Minecraft: Guide to Exploration by Ab Mojang

The top five teen digital fiction titles were:*
- Divine Rivals by Rebecca Ross
- The Brothers Hawthorne by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
- Highly Suspicious and Unfairly Cute by Talia Hibbert
- The Stolen Heir by Holly Black
- Check & Mate by Ali Hazelwood

*note: only one teen nonfiction title was added to the digital library in 2023.

Just as in print, graphic novels found fans in the digital library as well. The top 2023 five adult graphic novels checked out digitally were:
- My Happy Marriage by Akumi Agitogi
- The Apothecary Diaries by Natsu Hyuuga
- Romantic Killer by Wataru Momose
- My Dress-Up Darling by Shinichi Fukuda
- Dragon Ball Super by Akira Toriyama

The top 2023 teen graphic novels from the digital collection were:
- Spy X Family by Tatsuya Endo
- The Girl I Like Forgot Her Glasses by Koume Fujichika
- My Hero Academia by Kohei Horikoshi
- Komi Can’t Communicate by Tomohito Oda
- Beauty and the Feast by Satomi U

The top 2023 kids graphic novels checked out digitally were:
- Twenty Thousand Fleas Under the Sea (Dog Man) by Dave Pilkey
- Baby-Sitters Little Sister Graphix by Ann M. Martin
- I Survived the Great Chicago Fire, 1871 by Lauren Tarshis
- The Amazing Adventures of the DC Super-Pets by Steve Korté
- Spy School: The Graphic Novel by Stuart Gibbs

Looking ahead

Midori Clark was hired as the Library’s new director and will start working in January. Her previous position was Library and Cultural Services Director for the City of Aurora.

A new location is slated to open in early 2024 in the Clifford Crossing shopping center in far west Fort Worth on Clifford Street just west of 820. It would be the first Fort Worth Public Library location in District 7. 


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