Friday, September 18, 2015

Fifty Years of Public Library Circulation

The process of finalizing 2014 Wisconsin Public Library Service Data is taking longer than usual this year. In the meantime, we look back fifty years to 1965. Back then, libraries had only thirty days to file their annual reports with the Division. Data for 1965 was collected in 1966 but wasn't published until 1967 when it was prefaced with this statement:


The Division for Library Services regrets the delay in the publication of the 1965 public library statistics. This year the transition was made from manual tabulation to data processing. In this process there were unanticipated details and complications that arose which postponed the printing. It is hoped that in subsequent years the improved method will facilitate early printing of the Service Record.

As can be seen in the graph below, statewide circulation for 1965 was less than one-third of its 2009 peak. Beginning with the 1990 report year the Division began reporting circulation of children's material. Twenty years later for 2010 we included uses of downloadable content (e-books, e-audio, and e-video).

Wisconsin Public Libraries: Fifty years of circulation
(click the thumbnail below to view the full size chart)
Wisconsin Public Libraries: Fifty years of circulation

Reported circulation of physical material for 2014 is 57,608,623 statewide. The year that total circulation first reached this level was 2005. If we include uses of downloadable content, the total is 60,560,342, last seen for total circulation during 2008. Stay tuned for the next fifty years of data.

p.s. We promise to post final 2014 service data before 2016.

Written by Jamie McCanless, Public Library Development Team