The most important public library statistic?
In other posts we’ve looked at various changes in public library services over the last 10 years, trying to see what the reality is behind anecdotal fears that “public libraries are doomed!!!”. We’ve look at circulation, visitation, reference and library programs, and the results are mixed as far as indicating the long term future of library services.
But when you think about the future the reality is that funding is going to be tremendously important to the survival of public libraries. We’ve already seen that employment has been steady, and the ratios of types of employees consistent. Now we see that library budgets have been growing, even on a per capita basis. We do see this trend flatten out around 2008, so the big question on the future of library funding is going to be: as the recession eases up, do libraries start to get more per capita funding?
After looking at public library data for a week I think it’s fair to say that it is too early for a lot of doom and gloom regarding public libraries. At the same time, there are traditional libraries services that are in rapid decline (reference), it is important the public libraries be open to change and grow to meet their users changing needs.
Data (and Chart) Source: IMLS Public Survey Fiscal Year 2009