On a + note

Trends in Canadian Libraries. #19: 2012

Posted in on a + note by Admin on June 18, 2012

Canadian libraries have undergone substantial change in the last ten years. To help the library community and stakeholders understand the new operating environment, the Canadian Urban Libraries Council  last year commissioned a study of library trends over the last decade.  An Analysis of Pubic Library Trends is an interesting and thought-provoking read. I have been using some of the data as I work on drafting GPL’s 2013 budget and thought you may find it useful, as well. Findings include:


● Canada’s annual library usage has increased 45% in the last 10 years, from 16.6 to 24.1 transactions per capita.

● The number of items circulated per capita has increased 16% over the last 10 years.

● The use of electronic databases has more than doubled but still accounts for less than 3% of all transactions. CULC advises that “libraries should be prepared to expect strong growth in database transactions.”

In regard to library finances, the CULC notes:

● Although library expenses have increased, the rise in customer transactions means the actual cost per use has declined 27%, from $1.97 in 2000 to $1.76 in 2009.

● Although spending on library materials has increased, escalating overhead costs mean that the materials budget actually makes up a smaller percentage of libraries’ expenses, decreasing from 13% to 11% of total library expenses.

● Less of the budget is being spent on books and periodicals, while electronic and audiovisual expenditures have increased from 18% in 2000 to 31% in 2009.

● As per capita funding increases, so does usage. The number of library transactions per capita increases from an average of 20.9 uses per capita among libraries with the lowest funding to 29.5 uses per capita among those with the most funding.


Finally, I share what is perhaps my favorite finding of the whole report:

● Spending on materials is related directly to increased library use. “Libraries whose per capita spending on materials is in the top third register nearly twice the number of usage transactions as do libraries whose materials spending is in the bottom third.”  The more we spend on resources, the more folks use us!


I found CULC’s report to be a really interesting read, as well as good practical data to justify the GPL budget proposals for next year. I hope it’s of use to you, too.


Have a great week. Summer has finally found Guelph!


Kitty Pope                                                                                                #19 June 2012 kpope@library.guelph.on.ca


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