Public library closings/openings: A quick update

Several previous posts, and a lot more comments than this blog usually gets, relate to what I thought was a simple question back in November 2011:

How many U.S. public libraries (not branches) have closed in recent years and stayed closed for, say, two or three years?

That probably isn’t the original wording, but it’s my intent–and the question arises because there have been so many posts and articles that seem to take as an article of faith that U.S. public libraries are shutting down all over the place.

Thanks to various commenters, a change in IMLS policy as of 2008, and the wonders of web searching, I now think I’m getting a pretty good sense of the answer.

I’m not going to give that answer here. It will show up either in Cites & Insights (most likely) or, if I find a $$market$$ for an article, in some “real” publication. Suffice it to say that, at least for the two-year period I’ve investigated to date–the only period that’s really open to clear investigation–it’s not 1%, it’s not even 0.5%, but it’s >0. Although in terms of potential patrons directly affected…well, that’s part of the larger story.

Anyway, this quick update is to note:

  • Thanks to others, and to figuring out how to get Excel to open and work with humongous Access databases, I now believe I have official lists of libraries (again, not branches) that were regarded as permanently closed in 2008 and 2009.
  • I’ve done my own web investigation in the current state (or non-state) of those libraries. I haven’t, and won’t, follow up with possible phone calls or emails for those libraries I can’t locate as having returned to active status through web methodologies…
  • I’m starting to write all of this up, including comments & investigation of other stories of closed public libraries. I’ll also explain why I’m focused on libraries rather than branches, why I think it’s important to have some clarity and facts in this area, and more…

And that’s it for now.

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