The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) recently published a report detailing the FY2015 results of the national Public Libraries Survey. This report focuses on the financial health, library use, resources, and staffing of public libraries around the country.
IMLS uses two measures to determine the financial health of public libraries: total operating expenditures (how much libraries spend) and total operating revenue (how much money libraries receive in order to run the library). Both of these financial measures have been increasing since 2012 and are creeping closer to pre-recession levels of nearly $13 billion –operating revenue reached $12.42 billion in FY2015 and operating expenditures reached $11.62 billion. Nationwide, this means that public libraries received about $39.94 per capita and spent about $37.38 per capita, although these numbers vary widely by state. In Colorado, public libraries received $56.91 per capita and spent $52.15 per capita, placing Colorado in the top quarter of states for both financial measures.
Library resources also rose nationally between FY2014 and FY2015, from 3.78 items per capita to 4.28 items per capita. Circulation averaged out to about 7.3 items per capita, although numbers were higher in cities and suburbs than in towns and rural areas. E-resource usage saw the most growth in FY2015. E-book use rose by more than half (53%) and use of audio materials saw a similar rise (44%).
Although materials usage remained steady, physical library visits dropped slightly in FY2015. There were 1.39 billion total public library visits nationwide, or about 4.48 visits per capita, down from 4.64 per capita visits in FY2014. However, program attendance increased by 5 million people in FY2015. Colorado is one of 8 states that had more than 6 public library visits per capita (6.14) and was one of 15 states that had more than 450 attendees for every 1,000 people served attend a public library program (504.5).
The entire Public Libraries Survey Report can be found here, and state profile infographics are here. The associated Library Search & Compare tool allows users to look up their own library’s information and compare it with similar libraries.
Note: This post is part of our series, “The LRS Number.” In this series, we highlight statistics that help tell the story of the 21st-century library.