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Book Circulation Per U.S. Public Library User Since 1856

Circulation has been going up in real terms for almost a century. Here’s a report that assembles another way to view the data – circ per user.
Book Circulation Per U.S. Public Library User Since 1856
by Douglas A. Galbi, Senior Economist
Federal Communications Commission[1]
July 29, 2007
Draft – Version 1.01
Library book circulation per user has no strong, long-run trend. From 1856 to 1978, library users borrowed from U.S. public libraries about 15 books per user per year. From 1978 to 2004, book circulation per user declined approximately 50%. The growth of audiovisuals circulation, estimated at 25% of total circulation in 2004, accounts for about half of this decline. These figures depend on estimates and disparate samples of libraries with varying circulation and user accounting methods. Nonetheless, these figures are of sufficient quality to suggest that historically established institutions significantly stabilize borrowing behavior.
This paper is freely available here or as a PDF.
This might make a good discussion document or comparator to your own public library’s history.


Posted on: August 28, 2007, 10:57 am Category: Uncategorized

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