Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Wisconsin Public Library Trends Get Real

Two months ago I described U.S. Census locale codes and how library data looks different by locale. Using Wisconsin Public Library Service Data for 2009 through 2014 to compile trends in library data, a revised and much-expanded Wisconsin Public Library Service Trends has now been published online.

Why No Farther Back Than 2009?

Admittedly, the timeframe is somewhat arbitrary. The country began recovering from the most recent recession in 2009, and that year marked an all-time high in statewide totals of circulation and visits. Using more or fewer years of data minimizes the degree of change we're seeing in how people use public libraries.

Graph of Wisconsin Public Library Service Trends 1990-2014
Wisconsin Public Library Service Trends 1990-2014
Graph of Uses of Public Internet Computers by Locale 2009-14
Uses of Public Internet Computers
by Locale 2009-14

Future Trends to Include

  • Wireless Internet uses
  • Wireless vs. PC Internet uses
  • Circulation of children's material vs. total circulation
  • E-content uses vs. circulation of material
  • Other (all ages) programs
  • Drop-in activities
  • Drop-in activities vs. programs
  • Literacy offerings
  • Summer vs. other literacy offerings

What is More Real About These Trends?

Two things:

  • Each library serves an area that is more different than similar to the state as a whole. Locales make compiled data more relevant to communities that libraries serve.
  • Dollar amounts tell little about buying power, so financial data is adjusted by Consumer Price Index in 2014 dollars for better comparison.

The trends document includes information for these data elements:

  • Circulation of Material
  • Circulation of Children's Material
  • Circulation to Nonresidents
  • Uses of Downloadable Content
  • Interlibrary Loan
  • Uses of Public Internet Computers
  • Reported Library Visits
  • Resident Registered Users
  • Annual Hours Open
  • Staff FTEs
  • Number of Programs
  • Number of Children's Programs
  • Number of Young Adult Programs
  • Program Attendance
  • Children's Program Attendance
  • Young Adult Program Attendance
  • Adjusted Staff Expenditures
  • Adjusted Print Collection Expenditures
  • Adjusted Operating Expenditures
  • Adjusted Local Revenue

Written by Jamie McCanless, Public Library Development Team