Alaska public libraries

The first of 49 notes on Chapter 20 of Give Us a Dollar and We’ll Give You Back Four (2012-13), one note for each state (except Hawaii, which, like the District of Columbia, has only one public library system). This one’s on libraries in Alaska—or at least those libraries included in the book.

Of the 72 libraries included (18 omitted), more than half are in the top expenditures category and three-quarters are in the top three. Notably, many of these are very small libraries with good state support. Almost a quarter of the libraries fall into the top two circulation per capita brackets (compared to 14% overall)—and two-thirds have at least 7 patron visits per capita, as compared to one-third overall.

Program attendance is also very high: 42% have at least 1.1 attendance per capita (compared to 9% overall). PC use follows the trend: 43% in the top category (compared to 8% overall), 65% in the top three (compared to 32% overall). In short: well-supported, well-used libraries, at the heart of their frequently-tiny communities.

Libraries by legal service area

LSA Count % Outliers
<700 34 47.2% 16
700-1,149 7 9.7% 1
1,150-1,649 2 2.7% 1
1,650-2,249 3 4.2%
2,250-2,999 5 6.9%
3,000-3,999 3 4.2%
4,000-5,299 4 5.6%
5,300-6,799 2 2.8%
6,800-8,699 2 2.8%
8,700-11,099 3 4.2%
11,100-14,099 2 2.8%
18,500-24,999 1 1.4%
25,000-34,499 1 1.4%
34,500-53,999 1 1.4%
105,000-4.1 mill. 2 2.8%

Circulation compared to spending

I’m adding two graphs for these state posts—graphs that, except for California, are not in Graphing Public Library Benefits (which already has 588 graphs: adding all state graphs would mean at least another 500 or so). These two graphs cover what are probably the most indicative metric: circulation per capita. The first shows absolute values plotted as a scattergraph, with a note on correlation. The second shows rounded values with one line for each spending category—and, depending on the state, “rounded” may have different meanings. For Alaska, for example, circulation per hour is rounded to the nearest five to make the second graph meaningful. (The scatterplots generally use larger markers than in the book, since fewer libraries are involved.)

Graph 1: Circulation per capita plotted against spending per capita

The correlation between circulation per capita and spending per capita for the Alaska libraries included in Give Us a Dollar… is high: 0.57.

Graph 2: Circulation per capita (rounded to five) occurrence by spending category

For this graph, I’m using the same template as for other multiline graphs—even though there are no Alaska libraries (included in the study) with spending in the $12 or $17 categories.

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