Monday, April 11, 2016

Public libraries in the 21st century offer more and varied program offerings

Which is not to say we shouldn't be concerned about the latest findings from Pew Research.

Photo by Retiring Guy
Line graph:  Pew Research

Survey Shows Fewer Americans Are Visiting Libraries.  (CBS News, 4/7/2016)
A good lede. Fewer Americans are visiting libraries — which means they’re missing out on the changes at such institutions, according to results of a Pew Research Center survey released Thursday at the Public Library Association’s annual conference in Denver.  [emphasis added]

One of the changes is the move away from print reference collections.  The above photo was taken in 2009 at the Madison Public Library's former central facility and shows the results of an extensive weeding of its reference collection.  

The new facility, which opened in September 2013, provides much more public service space on the same West Mifflin/North Fairchild/North Henry footprint.

Library visits to Wisconsin's public libraries peaked in 2009 at 35,781,390 -- which translates to 6.3 visits per capita, significantly above the U.S. average of 5.3, as reported by the Institute of Museum and Library Services.  

The 30,662,398 annual visits in 2014 (latest year available) represents a 14.3 % decline since 2009.  (Perhaps it should also be noted that 2014 visits are up 53% over 1990.)

The Wisconsin public library circulation trendline has followed a similar path.

Circulation peaked in 2009 and has since declined by 12%.(Circulation in 2014 is 49% higher than the 1990 tally.)

What has increased is the number of programs offered by Wisconsin public libraries and the number of people attending these programs.

The number of programs offered has increased 24% since 2009 -- 265% since 1991. 

Program attendance is up 20% compared to 2009 -- up 160 % compared to 1991.

The full Pew Research "Libraries and Learning" report is found here.

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