Since it is very difficult to live off of the money that there is to be made in the field of semi-professional comics criticism and comics blogging, I also have a part-time day job. It's working in a library that serves a small city of 34,000 immediately adjacent to the city of Columbus, where I live.
The other day while I was at work, I noticed something I hadn't seen all year—a Watchmen graphic novel on the shelf. Looking closer, I saw that there were actually two copies of Watchmen on the shelf.
All year—actually, maybe as far back as last November or December—all of our copies of Watchmen have been out, demand apparently driven by interest in the movie adaptation, and the relentless media attention focused on both the film and the comic that inspired it.
The library system I work in has three branches, but, like I said, it serves a rather small city, so we don't order every single graphic novel that comes out, and thus we rarely if ever have a situation where reserve lists are generated for particular graphic novels. But Watchmen grew such a long reserve list over the course of the last year that not only was it the only graphic novel I've ever noticed to have more than one or two people waiting on it (and those tended to be manga books like Deathnote, from the teen department), but more had to be ordered to accommodate the demand, and all of these went out and stayed out. Until a few days ago.
All together, we now own seven copies between the three branches, and, as of the other day when I checked, five of them were still checked out. So everyone that uses our library system who wants to read Watchmen has apparently done so (I'm sure they'll continue to circulate, but the fact that there are some on the shelf indicates the surge in interest if finally dwindling).
I checked the catalog at the Columbus Metropolitan Library to see what their Watchmen situation was. CML is a much, much bigger system than mine. It consists of 21 different branches that all share a collection, and they're spread throughout the 212-square mile, amoeboid-shaped city of about 750,000 people (1.7 million, if you count the greater metropolitan area, regardless of city borders).
They own 120 copies of Watchmen between all of their branches, and it looks like 34 of them are available at the moment. There are two or three other individual library systems in adjacent Columbus suburbs, but I didn't check their catalogs, because I don't care that much, but from my half-assed research, I think it's safe to say that the boom in interest related to the film has finally died down among Columbus' library patrons.
In case you were wondering.