Three-quarters of public libraries are above average–and below average

Just for fun, here’s one of the stranger facts from “The Mythical Average Public Library,” otherwise known as the May 2013 Cites & Insights (links for both the two-column and one-column version are here).

There’s one derived measure for FY2010 for which both of these statements are true:

  • More than three-quarters of U.S. public libraries measure above average for the measure.
  • Just under three-quarters of U.S. public libraries (72.3%) are below average for the measure.

And it’s the same measure.

How is that possible? The first average is the national overall average for the measure. The second is the library average: The average of all library figures for this derived measure.

What’s the measure? You’ll find it on page 18 of the two-column version, page 37 of the one-column version.

I think you’ll also find the essay as a whole interesting and perhaps informative. Give it a try.


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