Libraries Serving 18,500 to 24,999 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 libraries serving the fifth-largest patron size category: 18,500 to 24,999 potential patrons.

These are the largest libraries sometimes called “rural.” The tables include 492 libraries, with another 15 omitted. Funding patterns show an interesting concave pattern, with slightly more libraries in the two top and two bottom brackets, slightly fewer in the low middle categories ($17-$25.99, with 15.7% of the libraries compared to 19.6% overall—”slightly” is the appropriate word here).

Open hours

The percentage of libraries and systems open at least 4,000 hours is exactly typical at 17%—and all but one of those is in the 4,000 to 10,000 hour category. At the other extreme, only 4% are open less than 40 hours per week, including two libraries open less than 35 hours per week. This is one group where median expenditures do not track well with hours in the benchmark table or, for that matter, as well as one might expect in the budget table.

Computers for patron use with internet access

One library or system has at least 100 computers (it’s a well-funded library at $92.82), and only 3% have fewer than six. The bulk—two-thirds—have 13 to 39, evenly split between 13-19 and 20-39. Expenditures do track consistently with number of PCs on the benchmark side, less consistently on the budget side (where libraries spending $21-$30 have more PCs than you might expect).

Circulation per capita

Another case where what’s striking is how typical these figures are. Cumulative percentages never vary by more than 2% from the overall figures, and that 2% variation is only in one case. Expenditures track cleanly with circulation and, except for the highest bracket (where libraries circulating 24 or more items per capita have an unusually high benefit ratio), benefit ratios are in an extremely narrow range, from 4.28 to 4.81.

This is another size category where tracking between spending and circulation isn’t quite as neat when viewed based on expenditure brackets, as libraries spending $53-$72.99 have somewhat lower median circulation than those spending $43-$52.99.

Computers per thousand patrons

Low at the top, high at the bottom: Only 6% of the libraries have at least two computers per thousand people—and nearly half (48%) have less than 0.8.

Circulation and patron visits per hour

One-sixth of these libraries show at least 110 circulations per hour and three out of ten have 45 or more circ per hour. Only 4% have less than one circ every six minutes—including seven with less than one every ten minutes. The budget table has some anomalies (libraries spending $43-$52.99 are considerably busier than those spending $53-$72.99), but the top four brackets all have medians over 71 circ per hour, and only the lowest bracket ($5-$11.99) falls below 30 per hour.

Three out of five libraries (62%) have at least one patron visit every two minutes; only nine libraries (2%) have less than six visits per hour, 4% less than nine.

One Response to “Libraries Serving 18,500 to 24,999 Patrons”

  1. Just a quick note to let you know your blog was mentioned in an article I had published in InFocus by Library Works / Librarians Yellow Pages. It was entitled “The Top 25 Library Blogs.” I even repurposed/republished it in the blog for Rivistas Subscription Services at

    Just wanted to let you know about this and say thanks for having such a great library oriented blog!