The future of public libraries
It’s not uncommon to hear a lot of concern about public libraries coming from librarians and paraprofessionals working, here’s a really interesting example of this from meta-filter. Anecdotally I’ve heard very little concern from academic libraries, but looking at the data has made me less certain of even the relatively near term future. So the most interested data question for public libraries is “are these fears justified?”. Earlier I showed some data on public libraries FTE employment. Except for hints of decline at the end of the data, things look relatively good.
Above are 2 charts taken straight from the IMLS Public Survey Fiscal Year 2009, and they both tell pretty different stories. The first shows that only 1 state in the US has seen an increase in the per capita number of libraries, nearly half have seen a decrease. The other shows that visitation per capita is up! I’m sure there are many who work in public libraries that would anecdotally confirm this, less libraries are more busy.
Data Source: IMLS Public Survey Fiscal Year 2009