Saturday, August 1, 2015

A statistical look at Wisconsin public library collections: physical units (part 1)

In a previous post, I noted that annual circulation of physical units at Wisconsin's public libraries has decreased 12% since its peak (record) year of 65,608,341 in 2009.

And there are a number of reasons why this decline is taking place.

Ebooks have changed how books are produced, marketed, and read, although the many predictions of print's demise are certainly off the mark.

The Internet has changed how content is delivered and advertising budgets are determined, which has has had a huge negative impact on newsstand circulation of magazines.   Not to mention newspaper subscriptions.  (Although this household remains committed to print.)

Streaming of music now accounts for more revenue than sales of physical units.  (I can't remember that last time I purchased a music CD.  My main source of music is Spotify.)  As for movies, Netflix counts 65,000,000 streaming members vs. 5,300,000 DVD subscribers.

What about the facts that Wisconsin public library print collections are shrinking and less money is available for the purchase of materials?

The number of print and serial volumes in print in Wisconsin public libraries peaked in 2006.  The preliminary figures for 2014 show a decline of 1,277,844, a decline of 6.3%.

Caveat:  Wondering about the impact of this statement on page 9 of the Wisconsin public library annual report instructions for 2014.  "Serial back files in print" are no longer reported.

The number of book and serial volumes added peaked at 1,562,327 in 2008.  Six years later, according to the preliminary figures, volumes added declined by nearly 20%, a drop of 301,652.  That translates into few items on the new book shelves, which was always a significant generator of circulation in the public libraries where I worked.

Perhaps it all comes down to money.

The total amount expended by Wisconsin public libraries for print materials peaked in 2009.  The 2014 preliminary dollar figure reflects a 8.6% decline in buying power.  (Inflation is not taken into consideration here.)

Total Wisconsin public library operating expenditures increased by 17.6% since 2004.

Related post:
Wisconsin Public Library annual circulation (1990-2014), programs and program attendance (1991-2014).  (7/31/2015)

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