Category Archives: Libraries & Museums

An Overdue Discussion: Two takes on the library-fine debate

Source: Phil Morehart, American Libraries, June 1, 2018

Whether to charge fines for overdue materials is a hot-button topic. The issues are many: Some libraries have halted the practice, citing concerns that fines keep patrons away, while other libraries have kept them in place as vital revenue streams. Fines are also used by some libraries as a method to teach personal responsibility, while other libraries consider that lesson outside the realm of librarianship. We spoke with a librarian on each side of the debate….

The Librarian’s Guide to Homelessness: Advice for managers and leaders

Source: Ryan J. Dowd, American Libraries, June 1, 2018

….Working with difficult homeless individuals is hard. Managing people who work with difficult homeless individuals is harder. There are two equally challenging problems:
– staff members who are terrified of conflict and avoid all confrontation by not enforcing any rules
– staff members who think they are Rambo, turning every mild conflict into World War III

It is easier to help a timid staff member become assertive than it is to help an aggressive staff member be polite. I am not sure why this is, but hot-headed employees usually cannot rein it in for very long. They can get better for a little while, but eventually emotions take over and they lose their cool. Timid staff, on the other hand, grow only more confident as they get experience.

There are some tactics that can make you more effective…..

Why the Janus Decision Matters to Library Unions

Source: Carrie Smith, American Libraries, July 24, 2018

On June 27, the Supreme Court delivered a blow to public sector unions that could affect many library workers. The 5–4 decision in Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) declares it unconstitutional for public sector unions to collect agency fees from nonmember employees based on free speech grounds.

Library workers in public, school, academic, and other libraries who are employed through state and local governments in the 22 states that are not already right-to-work states are affected by this decision. Those who are not union members will no longer have agency fees deducted from their paychecks. More than a quarter of librarians (26.2%) and around one-fifth of library technicians (19.3%) and library assistants (22.7%) are union members nationwide, according to statistics compiled by the AFL-CIO Department for Professional Employees…..

Public Libraries in the United States: Fiscal Year 2015

Source: Institute of Museum and Library Services, July 2018

From the press release:
The Public Libraries Survey report, released today by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, provides a snapshot of public library use, financial health, staffing, and resources in FY 2015. IMLS also released a set of state profile reports, for each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Each year since 1988, the Public Libraries of the United States Survey has provided a national census of America’s public libraries. The data are collected from approximately 9,000 public library systems comprised of over 17,000 individual main libraries, library branches, and bookmobiles in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories. ….

The 2015 report includes the following findings:
– Nearly 311 million Americans lived within a public library service area in 2015, an increase from 306 million in 2014.
– In 2015, there were 1.39 billion visits to public libraries, or 4.48 visits per person.
– Public libraries offered 4.7 million programs in 2015, attended by nearly 107 million people, 5 million more attendees than the previous year.
– Public libraries made 1.31 billion collection items available to patrons and provided access to over a quarter million internet computers.
– The number of electronic materials available through public libraries, including audio, video and e-books, continued to grow. E-books, especially, have seen significant growth, increasing from 0.04 e-book per person in 2006 to just over one e-book per person in 2015. ….

The Return-On-Investment from Your Public Library is Unbelievable!

Source: Oleg Kagan, EveryLibrary, July 17, 2018

If libraries were a business, you’d want to buy that stock.

Wise investors know a good deal when they see it, which is why so many people who are smart and rich love their public library. It’s simple, really, if you consider what the average U.S. household pays for library services (~$7.50/month) and put that next to a public library’s vast offerings, the point is obvious. For under ten dollars you get thousands of books, music, movies, wholesome activities for kids, very expensive market research databases, and a much, much more. But say you’re still not convinced that libraries are a smart investment. Okay, what if I tell you that over and over again research has shown that the Return-on-Investment (ROI) for your local library is around $5 (but could be up to $9), for every dollar spent. It’s true: for every dollar that communities invest in library services they get five back!….

Related:
Should We Replace Libraries with Amazon?
Source: EveryLibrary, July 22, 2018

Of course not. It’s a terrible idea.

So why did Forbes publish this article that made that horrendous suggestion?

We have no idea….

There are, of course, many problems with this idea. First of all, libraries cost the average American taxpayer over 18 years old just $4.50 per month. An Amazon Prime subscription alone is nearly double that price and you get very little for free with that subscription because you still have to buy books or pay more to gain access to premium goods or services. If you want audio books or eBooks on Amazon, you need to pay for an Audible subscription or Kindle unlimited ($10 a month or twice the cost of a library) but you can get that for free through Overdrive (Libby) at your local library. If you want newly released movies, you have to buy the premium Amazon channels or you can get those for free at your library. If you want access to premium music you have to pay another $7.99 a month on Amazon or you can use Freegal or Hoopla at your library for free. And, if you want magazines, you can just get those for free from your library with Zinio or PressReader……

cost of various library services compared to costs of Amazon services

Return on Investment for Public Libraries
Library Research Service
Public Libraries – A Wise Investment
Final Report

Individual Reports for Participating Libraries
Cortez Public Library
Denver Public Library
Douglas County Libraries
Eagle Valley Library District
Fort Morgan Public Library
Mesa County Public Library District
Montrose Library District
Rangeview Library District

Study-Related Information and Resources
Personal ROI Calculator
Calculate your individual estimated return on investment based on your personal library use

Library ROI Calculator https://www.lrs.org/public/roi/calculator.php
Calculate an estimated ROI for your library

CAL Presentation
PowerPoint presentation of “Public Libraries – A Wise Investment” from 2007 Colorado Association of Libraries Conference

Questions for Key Informants
Approaches to use for key informant interviews during the study

Institutional Arrangements for Public Library Funding and Spending

Source: Carol Ebdon, Ji Hyung Park, Aimee L. Franklin, Jonathan Moore, American Review of Public Administration, Article first published online: July 3, 2018
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Wide variation in institutional structure and funding patterns in public libraries make this government function useful for exploring the effect of these differences on expenditures. Based on literature related to willingness to pay, special districts, and fiscal illusion, we hypothesize that libraries with taxing authority and more revenues from nonlocal sources will have higher levels of spending. We use data from an Annual Public Library Survey, and U.S. Census data, in ordinary least squares (OLS) regressions for 2007 and 2010. We find that taxing authority leads to increased spending, as expected. However, the results of funding sources are contrary to expectations; relative reliance on nonlocal sources is generally associated with lower levels of spending. This may be due to “crowding-out” of local sources, and there may also be some effect from reduced state aid following the Great Recession.

The New Urban Success: How Culture Pays

Source: Desislava Hristova, Luca M. Aiello and Daniele Quercia, Frontiers in Physics, Vol. 6, 2018

Urban economists have put forward the idea that cities that are culturally interesting tend to attract “the creative class” and, as a result, end up being economically successful. Yet it is still unclear how economic and cultural dynamics mutually influence each other. By contrast, that has been extensively studied in the case of individuals. Over decades, the French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu showed that people’s success and their positions in society mainly depend on how much they can spend (their economic capital) and what their interests are (their cultural capital). For the first time, we adapt Bourdieu’s framework to the city context. We operationalize a neighborhood’s cultural capital in terms of the cultural interests that pictures geo-referenced in the neighborhood tend to express. This is made possible by the mining of what users of the photo-sharing site of Flickr have posted in the cities of London and New York over 5 years. In so doing, we are able to show that economic capital alone does not explain urban development. The combination of cultural capital and economic capital, instead, is more indicative of neighborhood growth in terms of house prices and improvements of socio-economic conditions. Culture pays, but only up to a point as it comes with one of the most vexing urban challenges: that of gentrification.

Reinventing the public value of libraries

Source: Nick Field & Rosie Tran, Public Library Quarterly, Latest Articles, Published online: January 11, 2018
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Libraries worldwide have had to re-think their purpose and adapt to changing community needs and expectations. They are no longer simply repositories for old books. Rather, they are vital components of a community’s social and economic infrastructure that connects communities and fosters creativity and innovation. This paper explores the changing role of libraries—and public value organizations more broadly—in creating positive social, economic, and environmental outcomes for individuals and communities.

Strategies for sustainable funding: a metadata review of the independent library district model

Source: Matthew Goldman, Public Library Quarterly, Latest Articles, Published online: April 10, 2018
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Public libraries have seen a decline in public funding, relying on a mixture of external types of funding to keep services running. With state and local governments continuing to face financial pressures, some libraries have explored alternative ways to maximize funding, by forming library districts. This report aimed at exploring library districts in three states, Colorado, Michigan, and Oregon, which have similar funding structures. The report found more stable and predictable funding patterns in library districts versus their counterparts and provides evidence that is a strong alternative for public libraries seeking a change in the way they obtain funds.

Poverty and Public Library Usage in Iowa

Source: Jeffrey Meyer, Journal Public Library Quarterly, Volume 37, Issue 1, 2018
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
This analysis identifies relationships between library usage, poverty, and median household income in Iowa. Quantitative analysis identifies two distinctive correlations within this data set. First, there is a negative correlation between library usage and poverty, associating higher library usage with lower poverty. Second, there is a subtle positive correlation between library usage and median household income, associating higher library usage with higher median household income. Library usage data is derived from the Iowa Library Services’ Iowa Public Library Statistics (July 1, 2013–June 30, 2014). Poverty and median household income data is derived from the United States Census Bureau.