Library Journal recently published the results of its Materials Survey 2018, an annual survey that gathers materials expenditure and circulation data from public libraries across the United States.
Although print book circulation has dropped in the past few years, print book purchases still make up over half (54%) of public libraries’ materials budgets, while netted media (audiobooks, DVDs/Blu-rays, and streaming media) used a little under one-third (30%) of the budget and ebooks used about a tenth (9%). Within netted media spending, audiobook spending rose 16% across all of the responding libraries, including a notable rise in downloadable audio. Included for the first time on this survey, streaming media used 2% of the materials budget.
Librarians noted a few shifts in the types of print books that were popular among borrowers, most notably in non-fiction. Biography/memoir is now the most-circulated genre of non-fiction, knocking cookbooks down from an 8-year streak at the top. History circulation dropped by 12% and self-help/psychology dropped 20% since last year’s survey. In print fiction, mysteries remained the most popular while romance and Christian fiction circulation slipped down 12% and 14%, respectively.
About 3 in 5 (58%) respondents reported that ebook circulation increased at their library in the past year, although patrons tend to read different genres than they do in print. Like in print fiction, mystery and general fiction are the most circulated genres. However, they aren’t quite as popular as they are in print, and ebook circulation dropped in 2017. Meanwhile, romance ebook circulation rose by 8% and sci-fi/fantasy circulation increased by 18%. Like print nonfiction, biography/memoir is the most popular ebook genre. Politics/current events rocketed up to second place from a distant fourth last year, compared to being in sixth place among print circulation. History, in fifth place for print circulation, took third place in ebook circulation.
For more information, the full report can be found here.
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.