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How many US public libraries have actually closed?”

How many US public libraries have actually closed?

Check out this article Walt Crawford’s latest newsletter, Cites and Insights. If you’ve been following Walt Crawford’s musings for the last while you know he’s been doing a bunch of research on how many public libraries have actually closed during the current downturn in the economy and budgets.

So as not to bury the lede, Walt’s diligent work has determined that 2/10ths of one per cent of libraries have actually fully closed.  On the whole that’s not as negative as the moans and outcries would lead you to believe in the librarysphere.

Check out the full article here:

Cites & Insights: Crawford at Large

ISSN 1534-0937 Libraries · Policy · Technology · Media

Public Library Closures: On Not Dropping Like Flies
Walt starts with the results for the most impatient of us so here’s a quote:
“For those who don’t have the patience for a long, rambling essay with lots of background and detail, here’s the tip of the pyramid:As far as I can tell, at most seventeen public libraries within the United States closed in 2008 or 2009 and have apparently not reopened as of March 2012. That’s 17 out of 9,299 (in 2009) or 9,284 (in 2008) or 0.2%.

With the exception of one bookmobile (operating as a reporting library, not a mobile branch of another library) potentially serving 15,656 people, the closed libraries were very small. Fourteen of them served fewer than 1,000 people (that’s the Legal Service Area, the potential number of patrons); the other two served 1,000 to 2,499 people. Of the fourteen, for that matter, nine served fewer than 350 people—and five served 200 or fewer. The closed libraries accounted for 0.002% of 2007 library circulation—less than one of every 49,000 circulations. In other words, nearly all of the libraries closing in 2008 and 2009 (and all of the brick-and-mortar libraries) were very small libraries serving very few people. (Note the difference: 0.2% of libraries—with 0.002% of circulation, two orders of magnitude smaller.) Did these libraries close because the communities had emptied out to the point where no community services could remain? That’s a tougher question; we’ll look at the communities later on.”

Andy Woodworth’s commentary on his blog is interesting too:
Reconsidering the Public Library Closures Narrative

Posted on: April 22, 2012, 9:32 pm Category: Uncategorized