## Archive for June, 2012

### Give Us a Dollar: A Case Study—Part 2

Tuesday, June 12th, 2012

This continues the case study of Fourbuck Public Library, a mythical New York library based on the average of two real New York libraries serving slightly fewer than 11,000 people, and how it could use Give Us a Dollar and We’ll Give You Back Four. You’ll find Part 1 here.

## 3. Library Budget Breakdowns

At \$280K, Fourbuck’s total operating expenses are in the middle of the sixth (of ten) budget divisions (based on roughly equal portions of libraries), in the \$250,000 to \$439,000 range along with 979 other libraries. How does Fourbuck compare with other libraries with comparable budgets?

 Dollars per cap Library Count Median figures Circ/cap Att/cap Ben/cap BenR \$5-\$11 80 2.40 0.11 \$49.06 5.87 \$12-\$16 96 3.88 0.19 \$73.84 5.16 \$17-\$21 101 5.55 0.26 \$101.75 5.31 \$22-\$26 111 5.66 0.31 \$112.99 4.64 \$27-\$31 114 7.50 0.32 \$135.91 4.65 \$32-\$37 128 7.78 0.44 \$153.33 4.46 \$38-\$45 125 9.47 0.45 \$171.84 4.29 \$46-\$60 103 11.51 0.62 \$204.40 4.06 \$61-\$81 64 12.14 0.76 \$242.11 3.50 \$82+ 58 21.17 1.14 \$404.63 3.62 Overall 980 7.22 0.35 \$141.57 4.51

Table 3.18 Median per capita benefit figures

Let’s see. There are 111 libraries with comparable expenditures per capita. Once again, it’s higher than the median for circulation—but below the median for program attendance. Total benefits continue to be on the high side, with a benefit ratio considerably higher than the median for this group (\$4.64). Here, however, the correlation between expenditures and benefits is even higher: 0.78.

Ah, but there’s another table here to see how Fourbuck compares to other similarly funded libraries for overall activity:

 Dollars per cap Library Count Median figures Hours Visits Refer PCUse \$5-\$11 80 2,951 72,978 6,620 17,779 \$12-\$16 96 2,668 68,142 6,401 13,695 \$17-\$21 101 2,600 73,394 6,312 14,424 \$22-\$26 111 2,808 73,694 5,939 13,344 \$27-\$31 114 2,730 62,272 5,030 12,422 \$32-\$37 128 2,704 58,819 5,227 13,096 \$38-\$45 125 2,678 56,990 3,900 10,620 \$46-\$60 103 2,704 52,388 4,000 10,231 \$61-\$81 64 2,600 43,056 3,498 9,325 \$82+ 58 2,486 49,161 3,567 9,516 Overall 980 2,702 60,703 5,201 12,433

Table 3.19 Additional median benefit figures, not per capita

At 2,559 hours (basically 49 hours per week), Fourbuck is open fewer hours than most libraries with this level of funding (2,808 or, basically, 54 hours per week): Right there is a strong case for additional funding that would almost certainly increase community value, especially if the hours added are on weekends and evenings. Fourbuck is well below the median for visits and reference use, and not even half the median PC use: Does it need more public access computers as well as longer hours?

## 4. Expenditures Per Capita

Let’s dig into that \$22 to \$26.99 group, a group with 954 libraries in all (it’s not quite the largest group: That’s \$17 to \$21.99 with 955 libraries).

 LSA Count Circ/c Att/c Vis/c PC/c BenR 0 70 5.6 0.3 4.5 1.5 8.0 1 201 6.5 0.3 4.7 1.2 6.9 2 154 6.3 0.3 4.7 1.1 5.9 5 148 6.5 0.3 4.5 1.1 5.4 10 166 5.5 0.3 4.8 1.0 4.5 25 94 5.8 0.3 4.5 1.0 4.1 50 55 5.9 0.2 4.2 0.9 4.3 100 47 5.7 0.2 3.6 0.8 3.9 250 19 5.9 0.2 4.4 0.9 4.5 Overall 954 6.1 0.3 4.5 1.0 5.3

Table 4.15 Median figures for libraries spending \$22 to \$26.99 per capita

As before, Fourbuck’s circulation is pretty good and program attendance is below average. Visits per capita are just slightly below average for this size library and class of funding (which I characterize as the best of the “mediocre funding” categories). But look at personal computing uses per capita: the median’s 1.0 and Fourbuck runs just over half that at 0.57. This basically confirms what we’ve already seen, slicing the libraries slightly differently.

## 5. State by State

This longest chapter, roughly half the book, breaks down the libraries within a state in four different tables. The first table shows that Fourbuck is one of 142 libraries in its size category (out of 740 New York libraries considered in the book).

As I discuss this, I now see that the first two tables would be more valuable with median figures rather than total figures for each metric. It’s easy enough to determine the averages, of course. Since Fourbuck is one of the smallest libraries in the size bracket, it’s hardly surprising that circulation is only two-thirds of average, and consistent with earlier chapters that program attendance is less than one-third of average.

 \$ per cap Count LSA Circ/c PC/c Ben/c BenR \$82+ 148 2,673,091 14.0 2.0 \$292 1.0 \$61-\$81 80 4,578,949 12.3 1.4 \$247 3.5 \$46-\$60 71 3,153,121 11.8 1.8 \$257 4.9 \$38-\$45 64 3,337,767 11.1 1.2 \$209 5.3 \$32-\$37 55 664,884 8.8 1.2 \$192 5.4 \$27-\$31 73 1,769,663 7.3 1.1 \$157 5.4 \$22-\$26 74 1,128,115 6.4 0.9 \$134 5.6 \$17-\$21 65 646,033 4.9 0.7 \$120 6.2 \$12-\$16 70 654,427 3.9 0.6 \$93 6.5 \$5-\$11 40 449,244 2.4 0.5 \$71 7.3 Overall 740 19,055,294 8.3 1.1 \$172 5.1

Table 5.134 New York median per capita metrics by expenditures per capita

Compared to all 74 New York libraries with \$22 to \$26.99 per capita funding, circulation is on the high side and PC usage is on the low side, with overall benefits just a little above the median and benefit ratio just a little below. Could Fourbuck offer better programs, longer hours, a fresher collection, more PCs and—don’t forget—the high-value services that don’t show up on this simplistic analysis if it had, say, \$37 per capita funding (an extra \$117,000, roughly)? Based on everything else in this book, it’s fair to suggest that Fourbuck would still give the community at least \$4 in benefits for every \$1 in expenditures—and probably \$5, given the New York picture.

To be continued in Part 3 (Wednesday, June 13, 2012) and Part 4 (Thursday, June 14, 2012)

### Give Us A Dollar: Case Study—Part 1

Monday, June 11th, 2012

Give Us a Dollar and We’ll Give You Back Four should be useful for almost any public library, especially those in the middle—that is, not quite starving for funds but without really good funding. I call it the Middle 6,000—6,492: public libraries with at least \$12 per capita funding but less than \$61 per capita. (Not that I don’t believe libraries below or above that point could find the book worthwhile, but I believe it’s most relevant in the middle.)

Let’s take a plausible but fictitious public library as an example and see what the director or staff could gain from the book. While this particular public library doesn’t exist, its profile was created by averaging two New York public libraries with very similar legal service area populations (LSA). By the way, if you’re one of the few who’s purchased the book, I propose a significantly different approach for the 2010-data version: Read through to the last portion of the essay, headed “Deeper and Different?”

Fourbuck Public Library (henceforth Fourbuck) is in New York, a largish small library that’s serving Fourbuck well but could probably do more with better funding. The director sends me email after buying the book and gets back something like this as part of a reply email shortly thereafter (each label/value pair would be on a separate line, separated by a tab rather than colon-blank):

St: NY Key: NY999X LSA: 10,768 Exp: \$280,057 Hrs: 2,559
Vis: 48,019 Ref: 3,590 Circ: 94,886 ILL: 23,625 Attend: 2,922 PC: 5 PCUse: 6,189
\$/Cap: \$26.01 Ben/Cap: \$140.21 BenR: 5.39
Circ/c: 8.81 Att/c: 0.27 Ref/c: 0.33 Vis/c: 4.46 PC/c: 0.57
Hr\$: \$153,540 Vis\$: \$240,095 Ref\$: \$53,850 Circ\$: \$983,641 Att\$: \$29,220
PC1\$: \$34,035 PCU\$: \$49,512 PC\$: \$49,512
DirBen: \$1,116,223 ImpBen: \$393,545 Ben: \$1,509,768 DirR: 3.99 ImpR: 1.41

The labels are all spelled out in Chapter 1of the book, although not quite in that order. For most libraries, the first four lines will be directly useful (and are the elements used in the book); the last three lines are derived supporting values for the Ben/Cap and BenR. (If the book takes off, with more than 50 or so copies sold and a request coming in every day or two, I might add a third column of spelled-out labels.)

Here are the spelled-out labels for the first four lines and the values for Fourbuck: State (New York); Key (NY999X); Legal Service Area population (10,768); Total operating expenses (\$280,057); Hours (2,559); Visits (48,019); Reference questions (3,590); Circulation (94,886); ILL (from and to combined) 23,625; Program attendance (2,922); available internet-connected public computers (5); counted PC uses (6,189); expenses per capita (\$26.01); benefits per capita (\$140.21), benefit ratio (5.39).

By the time you (the director) are through the first chapter, you’ll already know that Fourbuck gets more bang per buck than most libraries, with a 5.39 benefit ratio. That may be too high (especially in a high-cost state)—it may be a sign that Fourbuck is underfunded (and, at \$26.01 per capita, it’s certainly not swimming in money).

What can you find from other chapters in terms of where you stand relative to other, similar libraries?

## 2. Library Size Breakdowns

Fourbuck is at the bottom edge of the LSA category with the most libraries: 10,000 to 24,999, with 1,713 libraries among the 8,506 discussed in the book (and another 47 among the outliers). Given that Fourbuck is on the cusp, you might want to look at the section on libraries serving 5,000 to 9,999 libraries as well, but for the moment let’s stick to the primary category.

 Dollars per cap Library Count Median figures Circ/cap Att/cap Ben/cap BenR \$5-\$11 185 2.74 0.12 \$56.53 6.36 \$12-\$16 196 3.97 0.18 \$76.97 5.39 \$17-\$21 174 5.08 0.26 \$97.72 5.11 \$22-\$26 166 5.54 0.31 \$108.45 4.48 \$27-\$31 165 7.81 0.30 \$134.56 4.59 \$32-\$37 178 8.09 0.38 \$146.78 4.20 \$38-\$45 189 9.52 0.38 \$162.43 3.82 \$46-\$60 195 10.54 0.47 \$182.76 3.53 \$61-\$81 138 12.78 0.53 \$234.39 3.31 \$82+ 127 16.51 0.84 \$296.69 2.40 Overall 1,713 7.18 0.32 \$132.37 4.32

Table 2.11 Selected per-capita metrics by expenditures per capita

Fourbuck is one of the 166 libraries with \$22 to \$26.99 per capita funding. Among those libraries, Fourbuck has substantially higher than median circulation (8.81 compared to 5.54), but it’s a little low on program attendance (0.27 compared to 0.31). Looking at the rest of the table, there’s strong evidence that Fourbuck would continue to offer excellent value if it had a dime a day funding (\$36.50 per capita) or even more (a buck a week?)—and your circulation and benefits are both close to the dime-a-day level. (There’s a very high 0.71 correlation between expenditures and benefits for libraries in this size bracket: That is, the more you spend, the more you benefit the community.)

You’re in the top third of libraries in this size category for benefit ratio—Table 2.12 shows that 5.00 to 5.99 includes 14% of the libraries for a cumulative total of 36% scoring 5 or higher. Would more funding for more hours and an expanded set of programs make your library more central to the community while retaining excellent use of money? There’s a case…

To be continued: Part 2 (Tuesday, June 12, 2012), Part 3 (Wednesday, June 13, 2012) and Part 4 (Thursday, June 14, 2012).

### Cites & Insights 12:5 (June 2012) Available

Thursday, June 7th, 2012

Cites & Insights 12:5 (June 2012) is now available for downloading at http://citesandinsights.info/civ12i5.pdf

A single-column 6×9 version, suitable for ereaders, is available at http://citesandinsights.info/civ12i5on.pdf

The 24-page issue (43 pages in the single-column version) is PDF as usual. The individual essays are also available in HTML form at http://citesandinsights.info or use the essay name links below.

This issue includes:

### The Front (pp. 1-4)

Announcing Give Us a Dollar and We’ll Give You Back Four, a study of public library benefits and funding designed to help libraries see where they stand and work to improve funding.

Also noting “the books your library needs”–two recent books published by professional library-oriented publishers that I believe are essential for, respectively, every academic and most special (and some public) library and every public and some academic and special libraries.

### The Middle: Forecasts (pp. 4-12)

Following up the May essay on futurism with a whole bunch of specific forecasts–the one-year kind that can be tested and usually found wanting.

### Policy: Copyright: Fair Use, Part 1 (pp. 12-24)

Two discussions of fair use in action (or, rather, in court). First, the concluding steps in a farce that has effectively broadened fair use and the recognition that it’s not a defense, it’s the law. Second, earlier steps in a situation more directly relevant to academic libraries, the Georgia State lawsuit–but not the outcome (for now, I stop at the point that the judge issued a decision).

### Give Us a Dollar and We’ll Give You Back Four

Monday, June 4th, 2012

That’s the title of the preliminary edition of my “benefits ratio” study of American public libraries, as discussed in earlier posts. (Those four links are in reverse chronological order; if you want to read the posts and comments from oldest to newest, start with “posts” and work back to “discussed.”)

The 193-page 6×9″ paperback is \$49.50, but at least from now through the end of the ALA Annual Conference, it’s discounted 30% to \$34.65. (If sales continue at the rate of five a week or more, I’ll retain the discount.)

If you prefer, you can buy a PDF version for \$29.50 (and save shipping); that version will go up to \$39.50 when the paperback discount goes away. (Lulu doesn’t offer a way to discount an ebook.)

I’m specifically looking for feedback–the book includes the URL for a page that links to a survey, and explicitly invites email feedback no matter how negative it might be. I believe this book–at least in later, refined versions–can be useful for public libraries, but I’m not a public librarian. If I’m wrong–if there’s general agreement that the book is either useless or damaging–it will go away. If people do find it valuable, at least as a concept, I’ll use feedback to produce a more refined version using 2010 data (after IMLS makes that data available).

The earlier posts describe the project fairly well, so I won’t repeat the description here.

### Review Copies

I can make a limited number of review copies–PDF only, but since it’s a 6×9 book it should work well on most e-readers–available on request directly to me (waltcrawford at gmail.com) on the following basis:

1. If you ask for a review copy, you’re committing to writing an online review of some sort (on your own blog, on some other website, to a list) and either sending me a copy or a link. (I say “online” because this is a preliminary edition: It should be replaced or defunct before print reviews are likely.) At the very least, I’d expect you to complete the survey, send me direct feedback or both. [A review could be as brief as “What a waste of time” or could include pages of suggestions on how to make a possibly-good idea better.]

2. I do not care whether the review is positive, mixed, negative or slashingly negative. Period. If you’re a friend, what you say in the review will not damage that friendship. Period. I’m looking for honest feedback. I’m willing to believe that this just isn’t a good idea. (I’m absolutely certain that the preliminary version could use a lot of improvement!)

3. I reserve the right to stop sending out review copies at a certain point. Right now, I’m thinking half a dozen, but that could grow to a dozen.

### Closing Notes

If you look at the preview, you’ll see that the cover is bland. I used one of Lulu’s canned cover designs (a bit less striking than the one for Library 2.0: A Cites & Insights Reader, also a canned design).

That’s because this is a preliminary edition. If there’s a “real” edition down the road, it will have a slightly nicer cover. Probably.

I’m also not adding this book to the C&I Books section at the foot of this blog page, again because this is a preliminary edition–one that may disappear as early as August 1, 2012, depending on feedback and sales.