Archive for 2012

Arizona public libraries

Monday, December 10th, 2012

The fourth of 49 notes on Chapter 20 of Give Us a Dollar and We’ll Give You Back Four (2012-13), this time on the public libraries of Arizona.

With 85 libraries (and eight omitted), you’d expect a somewhat uneven expenditure distribution in any case, but it’s not all that unusual (although nearly 18% of libraries spend $21-$25.99, compared to just under 11% overall). Median benefit ratio in all spending categories is at least 4.21 (4.4 adjusted). While circulation is fairly typical, patron visits are on the high side, with 41% having at least seven per year (compared to 33% overall). Half of the best-funded libraries circulate at least 24 items per capita; half of the best-funded (not necessarily the same libraries) have at least 21 visits per capita, a very high number. (Nationally, half of the best-funded libraries have at least 13 visits per capita.) PC use is notably high, with 45% of the libraries having at least 1.7 uses per capita (compared to 30% overall).

Libraries by legal service area

LSA Count % Outliers
<700 4 4.7% 1
700-1,149 7 8.2% 2
1,150-1,649 1 1.2% 1
1,650-2,249 5 5.9%
2,250-2,999 3 3.5%
3,000-3,999 8 9.4% 1
4,000-5,299 2 2.4%
5,300-6,799 7 8.2%
6,800-8,699 4 4.7%
8,700-11,099 7 8.2% 1
11,100-14,099 4 4.7% 1
14,100-18,499 4 4.7%
18,500-24,999 2 2.4%
25,000-34,499 2 2.4%
34,500-53,999 10 11.8%
54,000-104,999 3 3.5% 1
105,000-4.1 mill. 12 14.1%

Circulation per capita and spending per capita

While circulation per capita correlates strongly with spending per capita (0.56), the correlation is lower than for some other states. For the line graph, circulation was rounded to the nearest five per capita to make the graph more readable.

Circulation per capita plotted against spending per capita

Circulation per capita (to nearest five) occurrence by spending category

Arkansas public libraries

Friday, December 7th, 2012

The third of 49 notes on Chapter 20 of Give Us a Dollar and We’ll Give You Back Four (2012-13), this time on Arkansas’ libraries.


Relatively few libraries and systems (45 in the tables, 12 omitted) with two-thirds in the bottom three funding brackets (and none in the top). Just over one-quarter of the libraries circulate at least six items per capita (compared to 64% overall) and only 18% have at least five visits per year (54% overall). Similarly, just over one-quarter (27%) of the libraries have at least 0.3 program attendance per capita (compared to 54% overall). With so few libraries, it’s not too surprising that the budget table for circulation is somewhat chaotic—although, at least for the lowest six brackets, visits per capita and PC use per capita follow an orderly progression with spending.

Libraries by legal service area

LSA Count % Outliers
1,150-1,649 0.00% 2
1,650-2,249 1 2.2% 1
2,250-2,999 1 2.2% 1
5,300-6,799 1 2.2%
6,800-8,699 2 4.4% 2
11,100-14,099 0.00% 1
14,100-18,499 4 8.9%
18,500-24,999 4 8.9% 2
25,000-34,499 6 13.3% 1
34,500-53,999 5 11.1% 1
54,000-104,999 15 33.3% 1
105,000-4.1 mill. 6 13.3%


Circulation per capita correlates very strongly with spending per capita, with a Pearson’s coefficient of 0.82.

Circulation per capita plotted against spending per capita

Circulation per capita (rounded) occurrence by spending category

FELICITAS and other stuff

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

First off, FELICITAS

That’s actually the new coupon code for the longest-duration sale I’ve ever seen at Lulu: 20% off one order (that is, as many books, ebooks, etc. as you want, but all purchased as one transaction) between now and December 14, 2012.

You enter the coupon code in ALL CAPS

That would bring Graphing Public Library Benefits down to $9.56 (and there’s no shipping charge for a PDF). Obviously I think that experiment is worth a look for a tenspot (and you can pass it along to others who might be interested…with my blessing.)

Or the classy hardbound edition of Give Us a Dollar and We’ll Give You Back Four (2012-13) for $25.20. (OK, technically, I haven’t seen the hardbound edition, but I know from other hardbound Lulu editions that it’s classy.)

Or the paperback for $17.56. Or the PDF for, hmm, $9.56. (Buy the PDF of that book and GPLB and you’re still out less than $20.)

or Cites & Insights 12 for $40 (or all seven C&I volumes for $280–hey, I might as well dream big).

Or, for that matter, my very first Lulu book, which just reached my success target (between Lulu and CreateSpace), selling its 300th copy: Balanced Libraries: Thoughts on Continuity and Change–for $20. (I’m wondering whether it’s worth doing a heavily revised second edition. If that happens, it won’t happen any time soon.)

It’s rare for a Lulu sale to run over the weekend. I don’t remember when there’s been a sitewide sale lasting 10 days. Remember: It’s a win-win: I get the same revenue, you get a bargain.

 Other Stuff: The Survey

If you haven’t done so yet, I encourage you to go take the Cites & Insights Format & Content survey. There are only five questions, and only one of them is required. It shouldn’t take you more than five minutes.

I promise that I’ll read all of the comments carefully and that I will pay attention to the results.

I suspect that it doesn’t make a lot of sense to publish a new issue during the December Doldrums, so the first issue of 2013 (Volume 13) will probably appear in very early January. Given that some key questions have to do with the format of the publication, and that I need to decide what to do about that at least three or four days before publishing the next issue, let’s set Monday, December 24, 2012 as a deadline for the survey–I’ll treat the results as an Xmas present.

Oh, and by the way, there are no points off for saying that you consistently read and find highly valuable a section of Cites & Insights that hasn’t actually appeared…

So: Please take the survey. ‘Preciate it.

A few words about the formats:

I just looked at C&I activity during 2012. Perhaps worth noting, looking only at issues in Volume 12 that actually appeared in both one-column and two-column PDF form:

  • In three cases, there were more than half as many one-column PDF downloads as there were two-column, but one of those cases is too recent to be very meaningful. In two of the three cases, the one-column figure is barely over half the two-column; in the third, which looks likely to be the least-read issue of the year, it’s about 70%.
  • At the other extreme, in what’s easily the most-read issue of the year (as usual, an issue I thought about not publishing–no prizes for Googlingguessing the issue’s theme), the ratio was roughly six to one, two column to one.
  • HTML separates were viewed more often than two-column PDFs were downloaded in six cases, but three of those are from the same issue (and that issue may be too recent for this to be meaningful). In one and only one case, an essay was viewed more than twice as often in HTML form than it was downloaded as a two-column PDF, and that’s the only case in which the single-essay views exceed the total PDF downloads.
  • In general, HTML readership seems to be higher than one-column PDF downloads and lower than two-column downloads.

And that’s the way it is.

Alabama library notes

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

The second of 49 notes on Chapter 20 of Give Us a Dollar and We’ll Give You Back Four (2012-13), this time on Alabama’s libraries.

A substantial percentage of Alabama’s 189 libraries (plus 27 omitted) are relatively poorly supported, with 57% in the bottom three brackets (compared to 28% overall)—but 11 libraries spend at least $73 per capita, the top bracket. Funding difficulties mirror relatively low usage, even though benefit ratios for every expenditure category are at least 4.5 (without cost of living adjustment; 4.2 with adjustment). Only 33% of the libraries show at least six circulation per capita (compared to 64% overall) and only 28% have at least five patron visits per year (54% overall). More than half the libraries have less than 0.2 program attendance per capita (compared to 31% overall).

The budget tables show a strong correlation between spending and circulation (except that libraries spending $21 to $25.99 have lower numbers than those spending $17 to $20.99), all the way from a median of 2.21 circ per capita for the lowest spending bracket to 19.09 for the highest.

Libraries by legal service area

LSA Count % Outliers
<700 4 2.1%
700-1,149 15 7.9%
1,150-1,649 9 4.8% 1
1,650-2,249 14 7.4%
2,250-2,999 11 5.8% 1
3,000-3,999 11 5.8% 2
4,000-5,299 13 6.9% 2
5,300-6,799 12 6.4% 4
6,800-8,699 12 6.4% 3
8,700-11,099 14 7.4%
11,100-14,099 13 6.9%
14,100-18,499 16 8.5% 2
18,500-24,999 12 6.4% 3
25,000-34,499 8 4.3% 1
34,500-53,999 11 5.8% 3
54,000-104,999 9 4.8% 4
105,000-4.1 mill. 5 2.7% 1

Bonus graphs

For Alabama libraries, there’s a strong correlation (0.70) between circulation per capita and spending per capita.

Circulation per capita plotted against spending per capita

Circulation per capita (rounded) occurrence by spending category

Cites & Insights format & content: A new survey

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

Since it seems as though Cites & Insights will go on for a while longer, I’m looking at format and content again. Specifically, I’m wondering whether it would make sense to drop the current primary format (2-column 8.5×11″ PDF, the most paper-efficient format for printing) and retain only the “online PDF” version (1-column 6×9″ PDF–which would be almost as paper-efficient if people use Readers’ “print as booklet” option).

You’ll find the survey here. (I tried to embed it, but WordPress doesn’t like that.)

Minor followup of no particular import:

A few people with long memories might wonder why the survey doesn’t say anything about financial support for C&I.

See bloody forehead? See bloody wall?

I did include that last year. Based on the results, I thought that 80% of active readers might kick in a few dollars toward keeping C&I going.

If that was the case, then there were only 2.5 active readers of Cites & Insights this year: I received a grand total of two donations (thank you both!) that added up to low two digits.

So this time around, although at least a modest donation would show that C&I is regarded as worthwhile, I’m not even asking…

Alaska public libraries

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

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.

Explicating the Graphs: A followup post

Thursday, November 29th, 2012

The preceding post lacks one crucial element in two of the three bonus graphs: the legend, showing what those colored lines and markers mean. That’s because it’s excerpted directly from the book’s manuscript, and I omitted legends in most graphs simply to leave more room for the graphs themselves.

The first multiline graph in each chapter (and occasionally others with relatively few data points) does include the graph. So, to provide that info, here’s another portion of Chapter 10 in Graphing Public Library Benefits, with the legend in Figure 10.3 showing the colors and markers used for all multiline graphs (some of which don’t have markers).

Open Hours

One library system with $160 per capita funding, with outlets open a total of 13,468 hours, is omitted from these graphs. Open hours correlate moderately (0.35) with spending per capita.

Figure 10.2 Open hours plotted against spending per capita

Figure 10.3 Open hours (to nearest hundred) occurrence by spending category, part 1

Figure 10.4 Open hours (to nearest hundred) occurrence by spending category, part 2

Libraries Serving 5,300 to 6,799 Potential Patrons

Thursday, November 29th, 2012

We conclude this back-and-fourth tour of comments on the first 19 chapters of Give Us a Dollar and We’ll Give You Back Four (2012-13) with the chapter in the middle: Chapter 10, on libraries serving 5,300 to 6,799 potential patrons.

These are still small libraries, but not as small—and the tables cover 529 libraries with 28 more omitted. Expenditures trend just slightly low.

Open hours

I was sufficiently startled by this table to violate my rule of not looking up actual libraries: One library system (it is a system) serving fewer than 6,800 potential patrons is open at least 10,000 hours—and it’s a well-funded system, with $160.13 per capita funding. Ten others, not nearly so well funded (at least at the median), are open 4,000 to 10,000 hours.

We now have a majority of libraries open more than 40 hours per week (62%), with 84% open at least 35 hours per week and only 1% (six libraries) open half-time or less, that is, no more than 20 hours per week. Expenditures track well with hours except in the top two brackets (the second bracket’s median expenditures are lower than the third bracket).

Computers for patron use with internet access

Nearly half (46%) of the libraries have six to 12 computers, with two well-funded libraries having 40-99 bracket and only 8% having three or fewer.

Circulation and reference transactions per capita

Circulation tends just a wee bit high; so does reference overall, but only slightly. Nothing stands out in particular. As usual, there’s perfect step-by-step correlation between circulation and expenditures, but here circulation benefit ratios cover a slightly wider range (5.29 to 6.55, omitting the highest and lowest brackets).

Circulation and patron visits per hour

Although there are still fewer very busy libraries than the national norm, overall these libraries are fairly typical. Half the libraries have at least one circ every three minutes and one-third have one every two minutes (or more); half have at least 13 patron visits per hour, and the overall medians for both measures of busyness are roughly equal to the national medians.

And, just for fun, here’s a portion of Chapter 10 of Graphing Public Library Benefits

Circulation Per Capita

Correlation between circulation per capita and spending per capita is strong (0.59).

Figure 10.8 Circulation per capita plotted against spending per capita

Figure 10.9 Circulation per capita (rounded) occurrence by spending category, part 1

Figure 10.10 Circulation per capita (rounded) occurrence by spending category, part 2

A casual reader may observe that Figures 10.9 and 10.10 don’t make a lot of sense, since there’s no legend to say what all those colored lines and markers mean. To which I can only say…watch for the next post, which explicates that by including the first multiline graph in the chapter, which, as in all chapters, does contain the legend. It’s omitted from other graphs to leave more room for the graph itself.

Box Office Gold Disc 12

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

Angels Hard As They Come, 1971, color. Joe Viola (dir.), Scott Glenn, Charles Dierkop, James Iglehart, Gilda Texter, Gary Littlejohn, Gary Busey. 1:26.

We open with some motorcycle dudes (one driving a motorized tricycle) trying to close a drug deal, but the man’s watching. From there, we get some of them—the Angels—tooling down the road, where they meet up with members of another outlaw cycle gang, the Dragons. They’re told of an ongoing party with some hippies in a ghost town, so of course they drop everything and join it.

All’s fine until some of the Dragons gang-rape (apparently) one of the hippie girls, she winds up dead, the Angels wind up in the ghost town’s jail and things start going south. Eventually—after a whole bunch of violence and some topless dancing—most of Dragons are dead and the hippies and Angels leave. That’s about it. Gratuitous everything.

Utterly worthless. Good print, but even as an exploitation flick this one’s just pointless and vile. For fans of motorcycles and truly worthless biker flicks, maybe $0.25.

Jane Eyre, 1970 (TV movie), color. Delbert Mann (dir.), George C. Scott, Susannah York, Ian Bannen, Jack Hawkins, Jean Marsh. 1:50 [1:39]

This is one of those “why is this in a cheap 50-movie set?” movies. I mean: George C. Scott. Susannah York. Jane Eyre. Music by John Williams. And a pretty respectable British production. Not a great print, but usually near-VHS quality. I won’t comment on the plot, which I assume is fairly true to the original (depressing, although love sort-of triumphs in the end). Scott (as Rochester) leaves a few toothmarks in the scenery, but probably no more than the role calls for. York does a pretty good imitation of being plain, and a fine job in the role.

All in all, a solid piece of work. OK, it’s a TV movie (but a good one), and there appear to be a few minutes missing, but it’s still pretty solid. (I list Jean Marsh above because she’s Mrs. Rochester, in a crucial but non-speaking role.) Not great, but certainly worth $1.50.

The Seniors, 1978, color. Rod Amateau (dir.), Jeffrey Byron, Gary Imhoff, Dennis Quaid, Lou Richards, Rocky Flintermann, Priscilla Barnes, Alan Reed, Edward Andrews, Ian Wolfe, Alan Hewitt, Robert Emhardt. 1:27.

An odd little confection about four men, seniors in college who share an old house and a beautiful “nympho who loves to cook and clean” and who are terrified of graduating and going to Work. They have a dweebish friend who lusts after their nympho and who is a lab assistant to and buffer to the world for a “three-time Nobel winner” entomologist (there are so many entomology Nobel categories) who gets any grant he asks for and will sign anything the lab assistant puts in front of him. So the four prepare a $50,000 grant request for a study on sexual preferences of liberated college women (or something like that).

From there on, well, part of it seems like an excuse for half a dozen or more college women to drop their tops (but did all college women in 1978 really wear such long and dowdy clothing?), and we learn that hundreds of beautiful coeds will rush at the opportunity to have sex with strangers for $20 an hour. After the four (the original men in the “study”) realize the money may eventually run out, they decide to expand the study to involve other male participants paying $50 an hour to participate in the study…and take over a motel to serve as a research source. (The coeds get $20; the rest goes for overhead and expansion and…well, and profit. All in the name of science, to be sure.)

In other words, it’s a comedy about the joys of prostitution. (At this point, the always-willing coed participants are signing up for 6 days-a-week two-hour shifts: Sure it’s just research.) It also involves venal leaders of the community, a foundation person hot after the 72-year-old scientist (who’s breeding an indestructible mosquito to take over the world) and more uplifting material.

A trashy little item with some up-and-coming and down-and-going actors. (Quaid was 24 at the time; Barnes was 20.) Not badly done for what it is. I’ll give it $0.75.

The Deadly Companions, 1961, color. Sam Peckinpah (dir.), Maureen O’Hara, Brian Keith, Steve Cochran, Chill Wills, Strother Martin. 1:33.

Another “how did this get into a cheap megapack?” movie—a decent Western with reasonable starpower and a first-rate director. (Ah, but it was early in Peckinpah’s career.) The basic story: A guy shows up in an Arizona town, sees another guy hanging from a rafter in a “torture him to death” situation, saves him. Well…turns out the first guy—who never takes off his hat—is a former Union officer who was almost scalped by a Johnny Reb and has been looking for him. Guess who?

The rest of the plot is complex and involves an accidental killing, a bank robbery, a love story of sorts, various forms of betrayal, loads of Arizona scenery and about as much of a happy ending as makes sense for this kind of flick. All in all, well done, a pretty good print, not a great movie but not a bad flick. $1.25.

In case you’re wondering: This isn’t the last disc in the megapack. Because these are all full-length movies, the 50-movie set requires 13 discs.

Graphing Public Library Benefits

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

Graphing Public Library Benefits: An Experimental Supplement to Give Us a Dollar and We’ll Give You Back Four (2012-13) is now available as an $11.99 PDF ebook at

Yes, that does mean that if you buy it today, November 27, 2012, and haven’t already used the DELIRITAS coupon code, you can get it for 30% less. Or, y’know, get both the supplement and the book in PDF form for less than $17.

What it is

This ebook–let’s call it GPLB for short–is a graphic supplement to Give Us a Dollar…, providing either one or two (or sometimes three) graphs that reflect the data in each of the tables in Chapters 2-19 of that book. Each benchmark table is represented by a scatterplot; each budget table is represented by a multicolor line graph that may be in one, two or three parts depending on the data.

It’s an experiment, and I’m looking for feedback. Do some of these graphs actually add value? Would other forms be more valuable?


I have at least informally applied a Creative Commons BY-NC (or, since Lulu doesn’t offer that as a direct option, BY-NC-SA) license to this book. That means you are explicitly free to pass copies of it on to others, as long as you’re not charging for it. You can announce its availability in your blog with a link to the copy you’ve saved. I won’t (can’t) sue you, and I don’t mind.

Fair warning: The PDF is more than eight megabytes. Don’t plan on attaching it to emails.

I encourage people to pass it along to others who might have opinions to offer (and I’d appreciate getting those opinions at I’m working on the honor system: If you or somebody else finds the book useful, I’d be pleased if you’d (or somebody else) would buy your (their) own copy–or, better yet, buy a copy of Give Us a Dollar… and publicize its worth to your public library colleagues.

What? No paperback version?

As it stands, GPLB is only available as a PDF. (It’s a PDF/A document, and it does include bookmarks to replicate the contents table and make that redundant. There’s no DRM.)

That’s because the multiline charts–each with ten lines–require color. Which means Lulu charges $0.20/page instead of $0.02/page for printing. Since the book is 222 pages long (8.5×11, in order to make graphs as large and useful as possible), that means production costs for a paperback version are roughly $50–so I’d need to charge $62.50/copy to get $10 back.

If two people send me email committing to buy a paperback copy, I’ll generate a cover (essentially the same as the Give Us a Dollar… cover) and make it available. Heck, if four people want paperback copies, I’d earn enough to pay for my own copy (no, I don’t have a print copy).

Realistically, though, most people should print out only the pages they want to have in print form–I’d suggest the appropriate chapter for your library, typically 10 or 11 pages long. That’s a whole lot cheaper than buying the whole book in color. (The PDF’s optimized for e-reading but pages appear to print just fine.)

Here’s a crude screen-capture version of what part of a page looks like:

Partial page from Graphing Public Libraries

Data p**n

One of the leading lights in library statistical analysis commented that you could call graphs “data p**n.” If that’s the case, this is one feelthy book: It includes 588 graphs in all (and a few thousand words of text).

No Chapter 20?

Well, there is a Chapter 20–but it doesn’t offer a complete set of graphs parallel to the tables in Chapter 20 of the main book. That’s because there are just too many of them. Chapter 20 in the main book is half the book; if I did equivalent graphs, GPLB would be something over 450 pages long and include around 1,200 graphs.

I show how those graphs would work, using an “average” state as an example: California, which actually has almost exactly one-fiftieth of the nation’s public libraries and systems (the only respect in which California or its libraries could be considered average).


There it is. It’s an experiment, looking for feedback.

It means there are actually three parts to Give Us a Dollar…:

  • The book itself, consisting mostly of tables with some introductory text.
  • This supplementary book, consisting mostly of graphs.
  • Limited commentary in two issues of Cites & Insights: Comments on Chapters 1-19 in the November 2012 issue and comments on Chapter 20 in the Fall 2012 issue.

State and group-of-state custom reports

I do believe some of these graphs would be useful in custom reports for states or groups of states, which I’d be delighted to do for a price. (One such report, for a two-state combination, will appear next spring in conjunction with a speaking engagement. More on that later.) I discuss that possibility on the final pages of the Fall 2012 Cites & Insights, although that discussion did not contemplate graphs. (They wouldn’t add much to the prices.)