Library stats

Susan Hildreth, the State Librarian of California, is speaking now — talking about what’s happening with libraries. [As an aside, she came from Sacramento for this today, but lots of the attendees here have come in from all over Northern California — pretty amazing commitment. I think I tend to discount the value some because the session is about 2 miles from my house — need to reset my point of view here.]

Some library trivia for you…

$14B in total US library expenditures per year — about the same as the aggregate for pubs & taverns.

  • 5 library cardholders for each Amazon customer (148M to 30M)
  • 4 library circulations to each Amazon purchase daily (5.4M to 1.5M)
  • Library circulations same as FedEx shipments daily (5.4M to 5.3M)
  • 5 library visitors to each sports event spectator annually (1.1B to 204M)

Still in all — libraries are in big trouble, without question. Books are in a bit of trouble. Money & attention are moving elsewhere. Libraries have, I think, been better about adapting to and changing with the times than our school system has — while both institutions still bear a striking resemblance to similar institutions 100 years ago, libraries have been pretty great about articulating the mission of information access as opposed to book lending. But more change still needs to happen.

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