Libraries serving 700 to 1,149

Continuing commentary on Give Us a Dollar and We’ll Give You Back Four (2012-13), here are some notes on libraries with the second-smallest legal service area: Those serving 700 to 1,149 (potential) patrons or members

The 527 libraries in this category (with another 67 omitted) are fairly evenly distributed among the top six expenditure brackets, with fewer libraries per bracket in the bottom four. For example, there are fewer than half as many $5-$11 libraries than there are $26-$30 or any higher group. Benefit ratios are mostly between 6 and 8, with one lower than 6 and two higher than 8.5.

Open hours

Two-thirds of these libraries are in the lowest two brackets, with about half of those in the 99-1,040 hours group and half open 1,041-1,499 hours. Only 6% are open more than 40 hours a week (2,100 hours or more). The few that are open extended hours are well funded. There’s a perfect correlation between expenditures and median open hours—from 728 for $5-$11 libraries to 1,750 for $73-$399 libraries, and every level in between.

Personal computers with internet access

Two of these small libraries have 20-39 personal computers (and very high funding)—and 29% have six or more. The median is four, which seems strong for libraries this small.

Circulation and reference transactions per capita.

The correlation between expenditures and circulation is more interesting than the fairly typical distribution of circulation (how typical? it never deviates more than 3% from the overall distribution). The best-funded libraries are, as usual, the most heavily used, with the top bracket showing a 75%ile of 32.32 circs.

Reference transactions are also fairly typical, although not quite so well correlated with expenditures.

Program attendance per capita

The numbers here are better than overall percentages, with more than 100 of these libraries (19%) in the top bracket (1.1 or more program attendance per capita) as compared to 9% overall. Here again, expenditures and program attendance track perfectly and benefit ratios fall into a narrow range (from 6.14 to 7.21).

PC use per capita

Half of the libraries fall into the top three of eight brackets as compared to 30% overall—and 113 libraries (21%) report at least 3.5 PC uses per capita, 2.5 times the overall percentage. From a budget perspective, half or more of libraries with at least $36 per capita spending have at least 2.1 uses per capita, also a high figure, and there’s a straight correlation between median use and budget.

PCs per thousand patrons

87% of the libraries are in the top three brackets, 42% in the top (5+). That’s partly explainable by the small numbers of patrons. Here again, expenditures per capita trace nicely with PCs per thousand patrons and median PCs per thousand track perfectly with expenditure brackets.

Circulation and patron visits per hour

How busy are these libraries? Not very. More than half of them circulate less than one item every ten minutes; nearly half see less a patron visit less than once every fifteen minutes. With a few exceptions, even better funded libraries don’t show high figures here: the median for $73-$399 is just 9.47 circs per hour and 7.22 visits per hour.

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