According to the Census Bureau’s 1997 Census of Governments, larger municipalities fund public libraries better on a per capita basis (see figure in full report).
The inability of many smaller municipalities to fund public library service alone on a viable basis may help to explain another trend revealed by the Census of Governments, the prosperity of library districts nationwide (see table in full report).
Between 1986/87 and 1996/97, the expenditures of library districts in the U.S. more than quadrupled from $0.4 billion to $1.4 billion. At the same time, the expenditures of library districts as a percentage of all special district expenditures doubled from 0.8 to 1.6 percent.
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