Library Journal has released the results of its 2014 survey, which tracks materials spending in public libraries across the country. The libraries are categorized according to patron size and circulation size, as well as budget size. In what comes as a tremendous surprise given the frightening state of libraries’ crisis-level budgets, spending actually increased microscopically, which is still far better than a decrease.
The spending on print books, movies/DVDs, and CDs or other downloadable music was interesting, despite the easy availability of movies and music from other sources. While music circulation and spending has dropped, DVDs remain the single best investment with the circulation far outweighing the financial cost.
The unfortunate reduction in print book purchasing could go either way; while ebook spending did increase for most libraries regardless of size, overall materials spending decreased in library systems who had suffered branch closing, reductions in staff, and reductions in operating hours.
In even better news, every category of library size reported an overall increase in circulation for a total 2% increase. In a finding that speaks to the vital role that libraries play, it was those libraries that serve rural communities that reported the highest book circulation numbers, largely due to the lack of bookstores in these communities and the unavailability of “one day delivery lockers” or Sunday delivery from online retailers.
Interestingly, libraries that reported a decrease in total book circulation actually pointed to ebooks as the culprit. With the ease of purchase and download and the more affordable price of digital over print, it appears as though consumers are quick to press the “buy it now” button instead of waiting for the book to become available through the library, either in print or in digital. This phenomenon has been shared for years from companies like Kobo and OverDrive, who’ve worked to convince publishers that library lending and ebooks are good for their business.
The full report from Library Journal is available HERE.