Archive for 2012

Libraries serving 8,700 to 11,099 potential patrons

Monday, November 26th, 2012

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 Chapter 12, covering libraries serving 8,700 to 11,099 potential patrons.

Remember: Today (November 26, 2012) and tomorrow, you can get the book–in any form–for 30% off by using code DELIRITAS (all capital letters) as a coupon code.

I tend to think of these 506 libraries (in the tables, with 17 others omitted) as being the largest small libraries or the smallest medium-sized libraries. Distribution by expenditures is typical.

Open hours

We see three library systems open 10,000 hours or more, more than two dozen open 4,000-10,000 hours—and only one open less than 20 hours a week. Four out of five are open at least 40 hours a week and nearly half are open at least 51 hours a week (that is, 2,700 hours a year). Except for an anomalous drop at the $4,000-$10,000 hour level, expenditures per capita rise in lockstep with open hours, but at generally lower rates.

Viewed from the expenditures side, the numbers are consistent as well, with half of the worst-funded libraries open less than 39 hours a week—and half of the best-funded ones open at least 59 hours a week.

Computers for patron use with internet access

Once again, the bulge is in the middle: 72% of the libraries have six to 19 computers, with only half a dozen having 40 to 99 (none 100 or more) and a dozen offering fewer than 4.

There’s nothing unusual about circulation per capita, reference transactions per capita, program attendance and patron visits per capita or PC use per capita.

Computers per thousand patrons

Relatively few of these libraries have two or more computers per thousand people: 17% in all (and only 1% offer five or more), compared to 30% (and 8%) overall. There’s a consistent relationship between computers per thousand patrons and expenditures per capita, although there are cases where the budget table isn’t quite consistent (libraries spending $12-$16.99 seem to be better equipped here than those spending $17-$25.99). Only in the top expenditures bracket do at least half the libraries offer more than 1.5 computers per thousand patrons, and for those libraries the median is 2.1.

Circulation and patron visits per hour

Eleven libraries fall into the busiest circulation category, with 110 or more circ per hour, but 19 fall into the slowest (less than 6 per hour). The bulge is in the upper middle: just under two-thirds of the libraries have 20 to 69 circ per hour, including about one out of four with 30 to 44. (Expenditures rise consistently with circ per hour.) The overall median, 29.03, means just under one circ every two minutes—but for the best-funded libraries that’s up to 59.03, just under one per minute.

Visits also cluster in the middle: 46% between 13 and 29 visits per hour (two of the nine brackets with roughly 11% each overall), and 79% between 9 and 44 visits per hour. Half of the best-funded libraries have 39 or more visits per hour; half of the worst funded have 10.5 or less.

Cites & Insights Volume 12 available in book form

Saturday, November 24th, 2012

Cites & Insights 12 (2012)The trade paperback version of Cites & Insights 12 (2012) is now available for purchase.

The 410-page 8.5×11 paperback costs $50, of which roughly half is a contribution to keep Cites & Insights going.

The volume includes all 12 issues (with photos printed in grayscale), plus a table of contents and indexes.

The wraparound cover photo is the paddlewheel of America’s greatest steam-powered riverboat, the American Queen (and the only authentic steam-powered sternwheeler actually offering multiday river cruises). It was taken during the American Queen’s inaugural season, 1995–and is the original paddlewheel (which is probably not the one on the boat, since there was a problem with the axle). It seemed appropriate since the American Queen returned to service in mid-2012 after a four-year hiatus–just as Cites & Insights returned to reasonably regular publication after a four-month hiatus. (If you had asked me in December 2011, I would have guessed that there might be half a dozen issues of C&I in 2012, or maybe three, or maybe none. But things change…and I won’t even begin to guess what 2013 holds.)

Save 30% Through November 27, 2012

If you act now–through Tuesday, November 27, 2012, you can save 30% on this and any other Cites & Insights books (or, indeed, anything at Lulu). Just put what you want in your cart; when you’re ready to check out, enter the code DELIRITAS (in all capital letters) in the coupon box. You can only use the code once, but it applies to your full order (not including tax & shipping).

That brings the book down to $35. Or better yet, add to your (or your library’s) professional literature collection by buying all seven available C&I annual volumes (2006 through 2012): You’ll effectively be getting seven for the price of five, and you’ll help a lot to support C&I. (The 30% discount does not reduce my revenue from the books: it’s a Lulu sale.)










Libraries Serving 4,000 to 5,299 Potential Patrons

Monday, November 19th, 2012

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 Chapter 9, covering libraries serving 4,000 to 5,299 potential patrons.

This chapter covers more libraries than any other: 532, with another 38 omitted. Funding is slightly on the low side, with fewer libraries in the top three expense brackets and slightly more in the bottom two.

Open hours

Although there are still no library systems open more than 10,000 hours (scarcely surprising given the population range), half a dozen are open 4,000 to 10,000 hours—and three-quarters are open at least 35 hours per week, with just over half open at least 40 hours per week.

Oddly, the median expense budget for the six systems open more than 4,000 hours is on the low side at $22.95. With that huge exception, expenditures and hours track as usual—and, except for 10 libraries open fewer than 1,041 hours (that is, no more than 20 hours per week), the benefit ratios cluster very close together, from 5.33 to 5.97.

Possibly worth noting: for libraries with at least $43 expenditures per capita, three-quarters of the libraries are open more than 41 hours per week.

Computers for patron use with internet access

One very well-funded library ($207.81 per capita) has at least 40 PCs—but three-quarters have four to 12. More than half have at least seven, but the median doesn’t exceed seven until you get to $53 per capita, when it jumps to 10.

Circulation and reference transactions per capita

Nothing much out of the ordinary, although slightly fewer libraries (4% rather than 6%) circulate 24 or more items per capita and slightly more (15% rather than 13%) circulate 10-12 items. Expenditure-activity correlations are predictably consistent for circulation and not quite as consistent for reference.

Circulation and patron visits per hour

The smallest very busy library is in this group: one library with more than 110 circulations per hour (it’s a poorly funded library at that: $13.37 expenditures per capita). Some 44% of the libraries have at least 20 circulations per hour and only 10% have fewer than six. Overall, however, these libraries are still somewhat quieter than the national norm—the overall medians are 17.79 circ and 10.69 visits per hour, compared to 22.8 and 14.87 nationally.

Libraries Serving 11,100 to 14,099 Potential Patrons

Friday, November 16th, 2012

Still “rural” by some definitions but into what I’d call smaller medium-sized libraries, 499 libraries are in these tables and 14 are omitted. The expenditure picture is patchier than usual, with somewhat fewer libraries in the $31-$35.99 and $17-$20.99 brackets and somewhat more (13%) in the $5-$11.99 bracket.

Open hours

The bulge is in the middle. Almost nine out of ten are open at least 40 hours per week; only 3% are open less than 35 hours per week. The biggest single bracket: 26% are open 2,700-3,099 hours per week (roughly 52 to 60 hours), compared to 12% overall.

There’s no expenditures bracket where even one-quarter of the libraries are open less than 2,080 hours (40 hours per week), including libraries spending $5-$11.99 per capita.

Computers for patron use with internet access

Another bulge in the middle, this time a narrower one: More than half the libraries (54%) have nine to 19 PCs, with only one out of five having more and one out of four having fewer (but only seven libraries have fewer than four). The median is a dozen, and once expenditures rise above $31 per capita, so does the median (to a high of 18 for the best-funded libraries).

PC use per capita and PCs per thousand patrons

PC use is slightly on the low side (with fewer libraries in the top two brackets, more in the bottom three); PC availability is significantly below average, with only two libraries (0%) having at least five per thousand (compared to 9% overall) and roughly half having less than one (compared to 38% overall).

Circulation and patron visits per hour

Forty-five percent of the libraries had 30 to 69 circ per hour; 16% were quite busy (70 or more) and 11% were relatively quiet (13 or less), with only 6% having less than one circ every six minutes. (The expenditures per capita track perfectly with circulation per hour, although when you look at budget brackets there are exceptions.)

Visits also cluster in the high middle, with 46% having 20 to 44 visits, 16% more—and only 4% have fewer than 6 visits per hour.

Worth mentioning (again?): Since per-hour figures are across all hours in multibranch systems, they reflect levels of activity somewhat differently than circ and visits per capita.

Libraries Serving 3,000 to 3,999 Patrons

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

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 3,000 to 3,999 potential patrons.

Tables include 510 libraries, with 33 others omitted. Other than slightly fewer than typical libraries at the best-funded end and slightly more than usual at the worst funded end, expenditure distribution is typical.

Open hours

Nearly two-thirds of these libraries are open at least 35 hours per week and 42% are open at least 40 hours per week. The few (4%) open very short hours (99-1,040) are the worst funded (median $8.56 per capita).

Computers for patrons with internet access

The bulge here is at 6-8 computers, with 33% of the libraries in that bracket, 28% higher, 39% lower. A baker’s dozen have 20-39 computers; none has more. Median expenditures rise in lock step with rising number of PCs.

Circulation and reference transactions per capita

Very much typical of all libraries, with no significant deviations. Overall median circulation per capita is slightly higher than the national median (8.18 compared to 7.93) and overall reference transactions per capita is slightly lower (0.44 compared to 0.52).

Program attendance and patron visits per capita

Here again, what’s remarkable is how much these libraries—still serving small communities—reflect public libraries as a whole in terms of usage, with just slightly higher numbers in the two highest program-attendance brackets.

Personal computers per thousand patrons

Nearly half of the libraries have from 1.5 to 2.99 computers per thousand patrons, as compared to just under a quarter of libraries nationally. Only 14% have less than one PC per thousand patrons. The overall median is 1.85, compared to 1.3 nationally.

Circulation and patron visits per hour

Two busy libraries (70-109 circulation per hour)—but half the libraries have fewer than 14 or significantly less than one circ every four minutes. Just under half have at least nine patron visits per hour—but only one in ten has 20 or more.

While the overall median for these libraries is 13.93 circ and 9.06 visits per hour, that compares with 22.8 circ and 14.87 visits per hour for the nation’s libraries: These are still mostly relatively quiet libraries.

Cites & Insights December 2012 (12:12) available

Monday, November 12th, 2012

Cites & Insights 12:12 (December 2012) is now available for downloading at

The print-oriented PDF is 38 pages long. A single-column 6×9″ PDF designed for online reading is also available at That version is 73 pages long. Both versions include bookmarks for all sections and subsections, one reason they’re fairly large.

The issue includes the following (also available as HTML separates from the essay titles or at

     The Rapid Rout of RWA    (pp. 1-25)

A comedy in four acts over seven weeks, from AAP/PSP’s endorsement of HR3699, the Research Works Act, on January 5, 2012, to Elsevier’s withdrawal of its support for RWA (which mysteriously caused the near-instantaneous death of the bill, introduced as it had been by wholly independent Congresspeople) on February 7, 2012. It’s a story that I believe and hope will resonate with scientists and others…

And it’s not directly related to the other essay, but some might see connections:

    Walking Away: Courage and Acquisitions   (pp. 25-38)

A much more recent story and one that’s not over yet, involving a small university librarian standing up and saying “We can’t take it any longer” and, with the help of her faculty, not taking it. Oh, and of public relations people who don’t believe in relating to the public. Where the first story involves the largest for-profit publisher in science, technology and medical journals, this one involves a putatively nonprofit publisher, that is, a scholarly society that just happens to take in one heck of a lot of money from its publications. The story also involves the question of whether librarians are ever allowed to be people–and at what point implicit sexism and ageism enter into play.


This marks the end of Volume 12. The index for Volume 12 is value-added material (such as it is) and, as such, will only appear in the printed paperback edition of Cites & Insights 12 (2012)–which will be announced when it’s available.

Libraries Serving 18,500 to 24,999 Patrons

Monday, November 5th, 2012

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.

Sunday silliness: Two meaningless miniposts

Sunday, November 4th, 2012

If you’re looking for significance, librarianship, or any of that stuff, you’ve come to the wrong place (and look! there’s an Oxford Comma, which I normally don’t use).


Part 1: Really? A 72-page Section?

The San Francisco Chronicle Sporting Green section (yes, it’s on green paper–or, rather, has green as a background except when printing color photos/ads) has been doing a bang-up job of covering that local baseball team, including a remarkable series of full-page (broadside, 11″ x 21″, good-quality color printing albeit on newsprint) action photos of most of the team, with each photo as a single sheet (backed with a full-page color ad, of course) during the post-season. It doesn’t hurt that the paper recently added first-rate writer Ann Killion to its already superb sportswriting staff. There’s been a ton of orange ink along with all that green…

So Friday the paper noted that it would have a 72-page special section commemorating the World Series in today’s Sunday paper. First reaction: Really? 72 pages? That’s as much content as a fairly substantial book. Of course, lots of it will be reprints of front pages or Sporting Green front pages from the post-season, but still…

Then I thought: How is the Chron going to print a single 72-page section? None of its sections are ever more than about 20-24 pages: Can the presses even handle that big a wad of paper?

Got the answer today. You redefine “section”–it’s actually four sections, two 24 page and two 12 page. No, haven’t skimmed through it yet. (I’m not much of a sports fan, but I read a fair amount of the Sporting Green for the same reason I once subscribed to Sports Illustrated: I love quality writing.)

Part 2: “You would have won…”

Some of you know that I enjoy playing video poker–and until the past decade or so (my wife’s asthma has gotten a little worse and we’ve both become more sensitive to smoke, especially as sane states outlaw smoking in hotels and restaurants), we went up to Reno two or three times a year, spending half of each day visiting places in Northern Nevada, half getting cheap entertainment at the poker slots.

(It’s not gambling in our case, it’s gaming: Neither of us had any expectation of winning, since we’re both very numerate, and we set our limits such that it really was cheap entertainment, never more than $100 a day for both of us combined. Playing quarter or nickel video poker one or two coins at a time, with a 96% or better payback–not 98% or better, because you don’t get the 4,000-coin royal flush payback unless you play five coins–$50 per day per person goes a long way.)

It’s been years since we’ve gone to Reno for a vacation (that may change, and would certainly change if the casinos would listen to 80% of their customers…), and the last time I played for money was during ALA in New Orleans, spending two or three very profitable hours in Harrah’s. Meanwhile, thanks to (a non-gambling site run by the maker of most multihand video poker slot machines), I’ve enjoyed video poker whenever I need a break from whatever I’m doing on the computer–for no money, with of course no money to be won either.

Technically, I pay $29/year to avoid lots of flashing third-party ads. And technically, there is money to be won–there’s a daily contest with a $50 first prize, which I won once and, based on normal odds, might win again in about 10-12 years. The last few days of each month, there’s a monthly contest with several cash winners up to $500. None of this is gambling because paying either the $29/year silver membership or an $8/month gold membership–which lets you chat and do other things–improves your chances of winning in any way whatsoever, much to the chagrin of some gold members.

Anyway: The daily and monthly contests–and the site as a whole–are designed to expose people to different variations on video poker and, presumably, encourage us to be more adventurous next time we’re in a real casino. (It also helps thoughtful people figure out what they should or shouldn’t hold, to actually get the 98%-101% payback that’s possible on some video poker variations in casinos with Nevada odds.)

It’s backfired for me, I think: I find the video poker almost as much fun as the real thing, with the advantage of no smoke, my choice of background music (if any), my choice of whether or not the slot machine makes noise, my choice of “free” drinks…and the ability to enjoy a five-minute or fifteen-minute session as often or as occasionally as I want, with no effort. My desire to go to real casinos is considerably less than it was before I started playing at the site…although, if I go to ALA 2014, I’ll certainly drop in to a few of the casinos there. Briefly.

And, after all this digression, here’s the point. The daily and monthly contests are hundred-hand rounds (of which you can play up to five or eight, depending on whether you played five the previous day), always at maximum bet. Instead of the way the site usually works–where you start with 10,000 points and the total goes up or down depending on your play–in this case, you start with zero and gain whatever you win. At the end of the round, your score is reported and you land on another screen.

If your score is higher than the nut–the amount you’d actually bet if you were playing with real money–you get a big Congrulations! and the amount you would have won if you’d been playing at a quarter machine in an actual casino. (As some of the gold members have commented during monthly contests, some of the high scorers really need imaginary wheelbarrows to cart off all that imaginary money.)

This is all amusing, and keeping track of won/loss for a particular variation is one thing I do (and I’m sure others do), and would probably guide what I actually play if/when I do go to a real casino. But…

Last month’s monthly contest was a new variation: Hundred-hand poker (that’s not new: one hand is dealt; you choose which cards to hold; those cards show up on 99 other hands, and each of 100 hands is dealt out)…with Super Times Pay, which means that about 6% of the time your hands are worth anywhere from 2 to 10 times as much. (“About” is key: I’ve seen as few as zero and as many as 14 out of 100 hands get the STP multiplier, although it’s usually from 4 to 8.)

With Super Times Pay, max bet for each hand is six rather than five.

Doing the arithmetic…six times 100, carry the…you can see that you’re wagering 600 coins. On each hand.

So when, on my best session last month, I was informed that I would have won $7,370 or so…I found it hard not to laugh. Sure, if I was willing to wager $125.00 on each play. Let’s see: My total voluntary exposure is $50 per day. So I could play one play every 2.5 days… And, by the way, on the round just before that (which was far and away my best round–and about 5% of what I’d need to win the monthly contest), I would have lost $2,848.50.

Not. Gonna. Happen. Not ever. Oh, I’ll play 100-hand poker: It’s a great way to test out the odds of various holding strategies in real life. But I won’t play it in a casino: Even at a penny machine, that’s $5 per hand (without the Super Times Pay nonsense).

Let me amplify Not. Gonna. Happen. There are, I’d say, three categories of video poker:

  • Versions I would play in a casino once in a great while: Mostly versions where the total exposure on each hand is, say, $1 or less. That could include three-hand poker (the most common multihand option) with maximum wager on a nickel machine ($0.75/deal).
  • Versions I might play if I’d won Super Lotto or the Publisher’s Clearing House megaprize and was really bored, but probably not for very long: Those are games like my favorite online, Multi-Strike Poker (my favorite mostly because it’s visually and sonically superior to most others), where you’re betting 20 coins per deal.
  • Versions I wouldn’t play even if I won both Super Lotto and PCH, unless somebody else was paying for all the wagers and giving me some portion of the winnings. That’s basically anything involving a wager of more than $2 or so per deal. Which puts $600 per deal way out there.

All of which means I’ll never be a casino’s favorite customer. I don’t gamble: I game. And I only game as cheap entertainment, where I assume that I’ll lose all of my allotted funds and stop. Even if I was wealthy, it would offend my sensibilities to redefine “cheap” in a manner that made spending $5 on a single deal plausible.

As for actual real-world winning and losing: The odds say that, even if you play perfectly, you will spend money in the long run…and, of course, most slot players don’t even play close to optimally. A 1.5% house edge adds up over the long run.

But the long run is the long run. In fact, I’m up overall for at least the past decade, because other than a little gaming on cruises and the New Orleans sessions, I really haven’t spent much time playing with actual money in the past decade–and I was extraordinarily lucky in NOLA, including the first royal flush I’ve ever had. Was I disappointed that I only got $62.50 for the royal flush instead of $1,000 because I’d bet one quarter, not five? Not at all. I was gaming, not gambling.

And that’s it: some Sunday silliness. Now to get back to a project. Or maybe try one round of today’s free contest, where I can neither win nor lose any actual money.

Give Us a Dollar: A Request

Friday, November 2nd, 2012

I’m interrupting the flow of two-or-three-times-a-week comments on Give Us a Dollar and We’ll Give You Back Four (2012-13) (that’s the $21.95 paperback; it’s also available as an $11.99 non-DRM PDF or a $31.50 hardbound) to add a request.

The request

If you’ve acquired this book and find it useful, please tell other people about it–maybe including your state library association list.

For that matter, if you find it useless or defective, or have suggestions on how to improve it, I wouldn’t mind hearing about it (waltcrawford at (If sales resume after the current hiatus and reach a given point, and if reaction is positive, I plan to do a new version next year or the year after, and could always use good advice.)

I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to publicize the book on state lists; for that matter, initial exploration suggests that it’s generally not even possible. So the only way the book will reach the people who might be able to use it best–the ones for whom I priced the PDF so low, namely librarians in the thousands of smaller libraries–is word of mouth.

And, while you’re here, an update on a related topic:

Graphing Public Library Benefits

I’ve put together the first four chapters of what would be a 19-chapter supplement to the first 19 chapters of Give Us a Dollar... and I think it’s at least interesting and possibly useful.

The supplement consists of graphs and a small amount of commentary; chapters 2 to 19 correspond to chapters 2 to 19 of the book. Each chapter includes a line graph showing occurrence of libraries by expenditures per capita (rounded to the nearest dollar). For each metric, there’s a scatterplot (accompanied by Pearson’s coefficient of correlation) to augment the benchmark table and one or two multicolor multiline graphs to augment the budget table (with one line for each expenditure category, showing occurrence of libraries within that expenditure category with rounded values of the metric).

So far, I’m finding some graphs that appear easy to read and meaningful, some that are harder to read.

The resulting publication will be an 8.5×11″ PDF–8.5×11″ because that allows for a 6.5″-wide graph rather than the 4″ graph feasible on a 6×9 page, PDF (primarily) because I need color to make the multiline graphs readable at all. If there’s explicit interest, I could also produce a print version–but that print version would be expensive because you have to use color throughout the book, at ten times the cost per page. (If the book comes out to 200 pages, which looks to be about right, the production cost would be $45 and the price would be $57 or so.) Unless there’s explicit interest, I won’t even offer a print version. (A hardcover version would be relatively not that much more expensive: The usual $10 extra.)

I’m guessing the PDF will be ready in mid- to late November, possibly early December. If you’re interested–and especially if you’re interested in a print book version–let me know. Note that the book is a supplement to Give Us a Dollar...: It does not replicate the tables themselves, and the tables are (I believe) far more useful as a library tool.

[I would note that the graphs also provide another possibility for state-specific or group-of-state reports, probably at $100 more than the prices quoted in the Fall 2012 Cites & Insights.]

Libraries Serving 2,250 to 2,999 Patrons

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012

Another set of notes on Give Us a Dollar and We’ll Give You Back Four (2012-13), this time on libraries serving 2,250 to 2,999 potential patrons.

The group includes 497 libraries, with another 26 omitted. When it comes to expenditures, there’s a slight slant toward the lower middle: The top two and bottom brackets are both on the low side (in terms of percentage of libraries) and $21-$25.99 is on the high side.

Open hours

Just under half of these libraries are open at least 35 hours a week—and very few (6%) are open less than 20 hours per week. Leaving out five libraries open more than 3,099 hours, there’s the usual step-by-step correlation between funding and hours (e.g., median expenditure per capita for libraries open 1,041-1,499 hours was $20.01, for 1,500-1,820 hours was $25.98, and for 1,822-2,099 hours was $32.07: these are the three largest brackets, including 65% of the libraries). The median benefit ratio range is very small as divided by open hours: from 5.99 to 6.84.

There’s also a perfect step-by-step correlation between expenditure brackets and median open hours, all the way from the $5-$11.99 libraries (half open 1,198 hours or more) to the $73-$399.99 libraries (half open at least 2,444 hours).

Computers for patrons with internet access

Just under half of these libraries have at least six public internet PCs, but none has 40 or more. Notably, half of the libraries in the two top funding brackets have at least nine PCs, while the median for the three lowest funding brackets is four PCs.

Circulation transactions per capita

Circulation per capita is distributed almost exactly along national lines and the circulation-expenditure correlation is consistent. This is one of the size brackets in which benefit ratios almost consistently improve along with expenditures.

Program attendance per capita

This metric tends slightly toward the high side—13% of libraries are in each of the three top brackets, with a total of 39% of libraries having at least 0.5 attendance per capita as compared to the national figure of 33%. At the other extreme, the figure for very low program attendance (including libraries that don’t report any programs) is typical at 15%. Expense correlation is consistent: libraries that spend more have more program attendance. Only the top budget bracket shows at least half the libraries with more than one program attendance per capita.

Computers per thousand patrons

There’s a bulge here, but not quite at the top: exactly half of the libraries have at least two but less than five computers per thousand patrons. Very few libraries—27 or 5%—have more than five, and those that do aren’t necessarily the best funded.

Circulation and patron visits per hour

A few of these libraries are busy, with three showing 70-109 circulation per hour and another seven showing 45-69, although 60% of the libraries have 13 or fewer circ per hour (the biggest clump is at 6-9, that is, one circ every 8-10 minutes). Median circ per hour correlates perfectly with expenditures, from the worst funded libraries (half circulating fewer than 6.22 per hour and only one-quarter circulating 10.67 or more) to the best (half circulating 20.69 per hour or more, one-quarter 30.97 or more).

Visits cluster at the low end. Although three libraries (not the same three libraries as for circulation) show 45-69 visits per hour, 65% have fewer than nine visits per hour.


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In general, most weekdays (especially Tuesday to Friday), it always makes sense to go to and check for a sale such as this one; then search for Give Us a Dollar or Walt Crawford to find the books.