After years of generally stagnant budgets for libraries, the numbers public libraries are reporting from 2014 reveal the continuation of an exciting upward trend. A total of 416 libraries across the country responded to Library Journal’s Budget Survey, and nearly three-fourths (73%) saw an overall increase in their operating budget. That’s a 13% increase from the proportion of public libraries claiming an increase just two years ago.
Not all of the news from this past year was completely positive – many libraries saw very narrow margins of victory, some libraries saw persistent budget decreases, and federal funding remained stagnant. And while materials budgets unfortunately aren’t showing much upward growth, the survey did reveal good news all around for library workers.
A large majority (81%) of libraries were able to secure a higher budget for salaries and personnel. However, there were some obvious discrepancies between small, rural libraries, many of which saw decreases in this area, and libraries serving much larger populations. Libraries serving half a million to a million people were the most likely to see increases in salary and personnel budgets (59%), and more than a third (39%) of libraries that serve over a million people received an increased budget for library workers. The increased popularity of programming, as well as better staffing and salaries, reflects a growing recognition of the importance of people to the future success and growth of public libraries.
You can check out all of the 2014 results and budget data collected by Library Journal here.
Note: This post is part of our series, “The Weekly Number.” In this series, we highlight statistics that help tell the story of the 21st-century library