Libraries serving 8,700 to 11,099 potential patrons

More comments on the tables in Give Us a Dollar and We’ll Give You Back Four (2012-13) [$11.99 PDF, no DRM; $21.95 paperback; $31.50 hardcover]…this time on Chapter 12, covering libraries serving 8,700 to 11,099 potential patrons.

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I tend to think of these 506 libraries (in the tables, with 17 others omitted) as being the largest small libraries or the smallest medium-sized libraries. Distribution by expenditures is typical.

Open hours

We see three library systems open 10,000 hours or more, more than two dozen open 4,000-10,000 hours—and only one open less than 20 hours a week. Four out of five are open at least 40 hours a week and nearly half are open at least 51 hours a week (that is, 2,700 hours a year). Except for an anomalous drop at the $4,000-$10,000 hour level, expenditures per capita rise in lockstep with open hours, but at generally lower rates.

Viewed from the expenditures side, the numbers are consistent as well, with half of the worst-funded libraries open less than 39 hours a week—and half of the best-funded ones open at least 59 hours a week.

Computers for patron use with internet access

Once again, the bulge is in the middle: 72% of the libraries have six to 19 computers, with only half a dozen having 40 to 99 (none 100 or more) and a dozen offering fewer than 4.

There’s nothing unusual about circulation per capita, reference transactions per capita, program attendance and patron visits per capita or PC use per capita.

Computers per thousand patrons

Relatively few of these libraries have two or more computers per thousand people: 17% in all (and only 1% offer five or more), compared to 30% (and 8%) overall. There’s a consistent relationship between computers per thousand patrons and expenditures per capita, although there are cases where the budget table isn’t quite consistent (libraries spending $12-$16.99 seem to be better equipped here than those spending $17-$25.99). Only in the top expenditures bracket do at least half the libraries offer more than 1.5 computers per thousand patrons, and for those libraries the median is 2.1.

Circulation and patron visits per hour

Eleven libraries fall into the busiest circulation category, with 110 or more circ per hour, but 19 fall into the slowest (less than 6 per hour). The bulge is in the upper middle: just under two-thirds of the libraries have 20 to 69 circ per hour, including about one out of four with 30 to 44. (Expenditures rise consistently with circ per hour.) The overall median, 29.03, means just under one circ every two minutes—but for the best-funded libraries that’s up to 59.03, just under one per minute.

Visits also cluster in the middle: 46% between 13 and 29 visits per hour (two of the nine brackets with roughly 11% each overall), and 79% between 9 and 44 visits per hour. Half of the best-funded libraries have 39 or more visits per hour; half of the worst funded have 10.5 or less.

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