Libraries Serving 2,250 to 2,999 Patrons

Another set of notes on Give Us a Dollar and We’ll Give You Back Four (2012-13), this time on libraries serving 2,250 to 2,999 potential patrons.

The group includes 497 libraries, with another 26 omitted. When it comes to expenditures, there’s a slight slant toward the lower middle: The top two and bottom brackets are both on the low side (in terms of percentage of libraries) and $21-$25.99 is on the high side.

Open hours

Just under half of these libraries are open at least 35 hours a week—and very few (6%) are open less than 20 hours per week. Leaving out five libraries open more than 3,099 hours, there’s the usual step-by-step correlation between funding and hours (e.g., median expenditure per capita for libraries open 1,041-1,499 hours was $20.01, for 1,500-1,820 hours was $25.98, and for 1,822-2,099 hours was $32.07: these are the three largest brackets, including 65% of the libraries). The median benefit ratio range is very small as divided by open hours: from 5.99 to 6.84.

There’s also a perfect step-by-step correlation between expenditure brackets and median open hours, all the way from the $5-$11.99 libraries (half open 1,198 hours or more) to the $73-$399.99 libraries (half open at least 2,444 hours).

Computers for patrons with internet access

Just under half of these libraries have at least six public internet PCs, but none has 40 or more. Notably, half of the libraries in the two top funding brackets have at least nine PCs, while the median for the three lowest funding brackets is four PCs.

Circulation transactions per capita

Circulation per capita is distributed almost exactly along national lines and the circulation-expenditure correlation is consistent. This is one of the size brackets in which benefit ratios almost consistently improve along with expenditures.

Program attendance per capita

This metric tends slightly toward the high side—13% of libraries are in each of the three top brackets, with a total of 39% of libraries having at least 0.5 attendance per capita as compared to the national figure of 33%. At the other extreme, the figure for very low program attendance (including libraries that don’t report any programs) is typical at 15%. Expense correlation is consistent: libraries that spend more have more program attendance. Only the top budget bracket shows at least half the libraries with more than one program attendance per capita.

Computers per thousand patrons

There’s a bulge here, but not quite at the top: exactly half of the libraries have at least two but less than five computers per thousand patrons. Very few libraries—27 or 5%—have more than five, and those that do aren’t necessarily the best funded.

Circulation and patron visits per hour

A few of these libraries are busy, with three showing 70-109 circulation per hour and another seven showing 45-69, although 60% of the libraries have 13 or fewer circ per hour (the biggest clump is at 6-9, that is, one circ every 8-10 minutes). Median circ per hour correlates perfectly with expenditures, from the worst funded libraries (half circulating fewer than 6.22 per hour and only one-quarter circulating 10.67 or more) to the best (half circulating 20.69 per hour or more, one-quarter 30.97 or more).

Visits cluster at the low end. Although three libraries (not the same three libraries as for circulation) show 45-69 visits per hour, 65% have fewer than nine visits per hour.

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