Some Vermont library statistics, fyi

So, I gave a short talk at the Library 2.0 Symposium at Yale on Saturday. Put on by the Information Society Project, it was a gathering of people ruminating on the nature of future libraries. Only a few of the participants seemed to know our profession’s definition of Library 2.0 but that didn’t seem to matter much. There are some great summaries of the panel discussions on the Yale ISP blog. Most people there were academic, but I did get to hang out with Josh Greenberg from NYPL and see Brewster Kahle talk about the Internet Archive’s book scanning project. My general angle was that while we talk a lot about the “born digital” generation, there are still places here in the US — hey, I live in one — where the sort of network effect that is necessary for 2.0 sorts of things still eludes us. We each got about ten minutes and I could have used twenty, but you can look at my five slides if you’d like.

The whole day was worthwhile, but it’s somewhat ironic that we were encouraged to use twitter and blog our reactions while the room the panel was in had almost no wifi and no outlets. I don’t know why this sort of thing still surprises me, but I just felt that a high-powered panel would be able to receive high-powered tech support and handle things like this. Not so.

Today we got notification that public library statistics are available for Vermont and got a link to this page. No HTML summary so I’m going to pull out a few things that I thought were notable so maybe other people can link to it or maybe I’ll crosspost on the VLA blog.

  • Vermont has 182 public libraries, the largest number of libraries per capita in the US.
  • 174 of these libraries have Internet access; 160 of these have high speed access. Do the math, that’s 14 libraries with dial-up and eight with nothing.
  • Half of the public librarians in the state have MLSes or the equivalent.
  • 73% of Vermont library funding comes from local taxes; 27% comes from other local sources (grants, fundraising)
  • Eleven public libraries filter internet access on all terminals (as opposed to some libraries that offer a children’s filtered option)

The library that I work in serves about 1300 people and is open nineteen hours per week. We’re the only library at our population level (serving 1000-2499 people) that loaned more books than we borrowed via ILL. Ninety-six percent of the service population have library cards. I’m still reading for more details, fascinating stuff really.

5 Responses to “Some Vermont library statistics, fyi”

  1. Jeremy McGinniss Says:

    Thanks for mentioning the “sort of network effect that is necessary for 2.0 sorts of things still eludes us.” This is something that my institution is currently wrestling with. Also, I think the other side to the network effect is the demographic of the people who are using it. I work for a small academic library in upstate NY (Binghamton) where we have most of the network problem solved but not necessarily the acceptance of the users. That is the users are not comfortable using 2.0 technology or at least deviating from the standard facebook/myspace technology.From my own brief reading it seems a lot of the writing about this is focused on the larger libraries with an assumption of a born-digital user. I think we still need to explore meeting the needs of the adopted digital user, if you will, in a smaller library setting, both academic and public. This is especially true, in my mind, in that very shady grey area of what is so confusingly termed information literacy.
    This Symposium looked awesome but I found out about it too late to go; stupid. I’m glad it went well.
    Peace.

  2. walt crawford Says:

    “Only a few of the participants seemed to know our profession’s definition of Library 2.0 ”

    Well, since I’d argue strongly that there’s no agreement on what that definition is, or if there even is one, it’s hard to fault others for not knowing it.

  3. Kathy Smargiassi Says:

    96% of the service population have library cards?!?! Wow! I want to know what your outreach is that can get that level of acceptance

  4. Lindy Says:

    Repeating Kathy: 96% of your library’s service population has library cards!!? That’s awesome!

  5. jessamyn Says:

    I think even if there’s no agreement on exactly what it is, I think we’d agree that it’s NOT just “what comes after Library 1.0″ or “the library of the future” We can argue about whether your library needs to be blogging but I think the transparency, user-centered change and connecting with users as many ways as possible [i.e. outreach online and off] are part of it. This was more a Future of Libraries conference which is fine but they used a term that already has a definition within our community of practice and that seemed weird.

    As to the 96%, I wonder if it’s 96% of the people or a number of people which is 96% of our service population. I did some more digging and some libraries seem to have %110 of their people with library cards which makes very little sense unless you read it that specific way. I’ll ask about it.