31 January 2013

Public Libraries in the United States IMLS Report

The federal Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) released its report on Public Library Services in the United States for FY 2010.  Similar to most statistics, the report runs a year or two behind the current fiscal year.

In the press release issued January 22, IMLS reported that the public libraries in this nation served 297.6 million people throughout the United States, a number that is equivalent to 96.4 percent of the total U.S. population. Nationally, public libraries have seen reductions in operating revenue, service hours, and staffing. Numbers for circulation, program attendance, and computer use continue to trend upward.

This is the first federal statistical report on public libraries to go beyond a national level analysis to report on trends at the local, regional, and state levels. The report identifies indicators in three areas: services and operations, resources, and workforce. To provide a more complete picture of library service in the U.S., the report provides a snapshot for each state, describing characteristics of library service.

Among the highlights in the Fast Facts sheet:

  • Public libraries held more programs than ever before.
  • Circulation figures are the highest ever.
  • Revenue has gone down.
  • Number of staff has gone down. 
The supplementary tables rank South Carolina #41 (out of 50) in library visits per capita (4.24) and #10 (out of 50) in reference transactions per capita.  (I guess this means that SC residents are an inquisitive bunch unafraid to ask questions).  

The report is online.  Read it at http://www.imls.gov/research/public_libraries_in_the_us_fy_2010_report.aspx or download a copy.  (It's not light reading.)  

You can read what the Director of IMLS, Susan Hildreth, has to say about the report in her agency's UpNext blog.

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