Give Us a Dollar: Any interest? (Redux)

I think it’s worth asking the question once again:

Is there any interest in Give Us a Dollar and We’ll Give You Back Four?

Here’s a blurb (thanks again to Laura Crossett):

Your public library is in competition with a lot of other agencies–city, county, district, even state–for money. You want your library to sustain its current services and expand them in the future. You know you get a lot of bang for your buck, but how do you show that to the people who hold the purse strings? One way is to use the data in Give Us a Dollar and We’ll Give You Back Four. Walt Crawford has compiled, analyzed, and organized library funding and service data from all around the United States. Give Us a Dollar will let you compare your services to those of other similar libraries at a glance and will help give you the data you need to show your funders how much you already stretch their dollars–and how much more you could provide with even a few dollars more.

To get the best idea of what I have in mind, read the first six pages of the one-column version of the July 2012 Cites & Insights (or use this HTML version instead), up to “The Current Structure.”

I think the book–as now conceived–could be useful both as a snapshot of how America’s public libraries did (using a number of measurable service metrics) in FY2010 and, for individual libraries, a quick way to position themselves against libraries of similar size and funding, to help improve or at least retain funding levels.

I could use expressions of interest, which are not in any way commitments to purchase.

[If it matters: Assume that the PDF price will probably be around $15 and the paperback price around $25, possibly less–and that price includes the assumption that I’ll email each purchaser the data line for his or her own library on request, making it even easier to position his or her library.]

A simple email–“Yes, this might be interesting” (or, on the other hand, “No, we don’t want any more data” or “We already have all the money we need” or “We don’t trust your work”)–to, or a simple comment to this post would help.

[I have no idea when IMLS will release FY10 numbers. Could be next week. Could be October. I figure the book should take about six weeks to two months to do, once the IMLS figures are available.]

6 Responses to “Give Us a Dollar: Any interest? (Redux)”

  1. Jeff Scott says:


    Sounds like a great project and very useful for libraries. More administrators need to understand the value libraries provide. Even with the lag time in statistics, there shouldn’t be such a significant difference as to skew your numbers. I would buy a copy.

  2. waltcrawford says:

    Thanks for the comment, Jeff. If I do the book, I might also do a followup (later, in C&I) looking at some 2009:2010 comparisons that don’t turn up in IMLS’ own report.

  3. bakerl says:

    Any thought of providing something like this for academic libraries?

  4. waltcrawford says:

    I think there are two problems with that: First, I don’t know of a data source comparable to IMLS for the 3,600-odd academic libraries. Second, unless there was a data source with deep and consistent data on data–that is, on usage of e-resources–I don’t know how you’d assemble a suitable set of benchmarks. Or at least how *I* would. So it’s an interesting idea, but not one that I think I’d have any idea how to do.

  5. Nancy Adams says:


    This kind of analysis is so useful to public libraries looking for the best way to maximize their funding dollars. As a library that was given one year’s notice of losing its sole local funding source and filled that financial gap in the nick of time with a dedicated real estate tax through referendum, we know! Our ability to show enough voters that they were getting their money’s worth has to have been at least one of the motivations. we could certainly use more and better figures, so please write on! we’ll buy a copy for sure.

  6. waltcrawford says:

    Thanks! I could use a few more comments…but at this point (and not knowing when IMLS will release the figures), I’m inclined to proceed with this project.