Public library value ratios: Update

Thanks to all those who commented on my possible public library value ratio project, either on the original post, on the Wednesday, May 9 update when I extended the feedback period or on the third post on Friday, May 11–and to those who sent email rather than commenting on one of the posts.

The comments provided valuable feedback and helped me sharpen the model and concept, as well as pointing me to a range of studies done by state libraries and other agencies. Those studies and some additional thinking also helped me revise the formulas I was planning to use–although in one case that “thinking” resulted in a formula that’s just plain wrong (and has now been corrected). Those who love formulas and details will want to go read all the way through the May 9 post to see what was involved.

The error was too much cleverness on my part–and it would have been glaringly obvious as soon as I started sorting the spreadsheet for some overall comments in Chapter One. Namely, one particular library system showed more than $2 billion in PC-related benefits rather than about $26.1 million. Go read the bottom of the May 9 post: It has to do with large multibranch systems.

After reviewing the comments, looking at the other studies, and thinking about my own time and energy, I’m going ahead with the project–with the proviso that if I find that it’s not going well enough or rapidly enough, it may be abandoned midstream. My goal is to have the preliminary edition available at least a week before ALA Annual, although that’s not a hard-and-fast goal.

Preliminary edition? Yes. This one’s a proof of concept, with the hope of getting feedback on its usefulness. If it’s useful (and reaches an audience), I’ll plan to do a more polished study using the 2010 IMLS database–when that emerges.

Thanks again to all who commented, including those I may have given a bad time. Oh, and if you have a great idea for a title, let me know…right away. Right now, I’m probably going with the best of several suggestions from Library Society of the World members (my informal thinktank!)…

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