Library Journal reports that public library materials budgets are up by 3%, despite stagnant circulation

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Image credit: Library Journal

Library Journal released its Materials Survey for 2015, a yearly survey that has gathered nationwide data on materials budgets and circulation from public libraries since 1998. They found that across all libraries that completed the survey, materials budgets are up 3%, averaging $807,000 overall for the year.

What’s more revealing about the changing face of public library materials, though, are the circulation statistics. For the past few years, electronic media formats have seen an explosion in circulation numbers. Electronic media now makes up, on average, nearly a quarter (24%) of a public library’s materials budget, and the circulation of downloadable audio, and downloadable movies in particular (with an astounding 50% increase in circulation), are advancing at a sprint. E-books, Audiobooks, and DVD/Blu-Ray, however, still remain the most acquired and circulated non-print media.

Despite the diversification of circulating materials, though, most of the public libraries surveyed saw overall circulation volume remain flat or decline. Only one third of respondents reported an increase in circulation in the past year, and the highest growth was seen in libraries that serve populations under 10,000, where circulation grew by an average of 2.5%. In previous surveys, overall circulation in public libraries had been showing slow but steady growth since 2012, so hopefully this year’s numbers represent an isolated setback rather than an emerging trend.

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.

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