Monday, October 7, 2013

Revisiting "A Half-Century of Public Library Use"

During late 2010 and early 2011, I created a series of posts under the subheading "A Half-Century of Public Library Use" for each of Wisconsin's 72 counties.  Well, at least that was my intention.  I became sidetracked somewhere in the s's.  (And my grand plan, never implemented, was to move beyond circulation.)

Anyway, most of the results are similar to what you see here for Monroe County, column graphs showing substantial growth in public library circulation, particularly after 1980, as well as steady if not always strong growth in circulation per capita.

Monroe County:
Population and Circulation, 1960-2009

Monroe County, 1960-2009

At the time, I figured we were at the end of an era of big gains in circulation, what with the increasing popularity of ebooks.   In addition  by 2008, downloading and streaming media were already having an impact on the circulation of CDs and DVDs, particularly in the Middleton Public Library's teen collection.

As I considered the next decade while working on this project, I foresaw a series of small declines in circulation taking place on an annual basis.  Nothing drastic, with annual totals remaining above 2000's level.

Something along the lines as what has been happening in Outagamie County since 2010.

But neighboring Calumet County doesn't quite fit the pattern.

Circulation peaked in 2000, with the decline getting underway the following year.

What's going on here?

Just speculating, but it might have something to do with where the greatest population growth in Calumet County is occurring.

First of all, nearly 23% of City of Appleton residents live in Calumet County.  (The majority of its residents live in Outagamie County.)  Between 2000 and 2010, the City of Menasha experienced significant spillover growth into Calumet County from Winnebago County.  That's why the Calumet County's library service area population, as determined by the Department of Public Instruction, is less than the total population.

In addition, the two municipalities with the largest population growth -- Town of Harrison and Village of Sherwood -- are both within range of the Appleton and Menasha public libraries.  (While serving as Interim Director at the Menasha Public Library for 4 months in 2011, the library board submitted a bill for $67,000 to Calumet County under the provisions of Act 420, County Funding to Libraries in Adjacent Counties). 

Source:  Wisconsin Blue Book

Do I plan to do more revisiting?

Not to an extensive degree.  Too much else going on right now.

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