Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Fun with Figures

My last idea got me thinking. The numbers just seems amazing to me, so I thought I would take them out to some logical conclusions. First, I was wrong about Kern County. It’s San Antonio that spends the least per capita at $13.96. Now, let’s keep looking at those numbers.

Approximately 70% (really 68%, but I’m giving the benefit to a higher number) of the population has a library card. Only 35% of cardholders used the library in between one and five times in the last year (so, at most, less than once every 2 months). 15% use the library at least almost every 2 weeks. With the in between visitors, data shows that 76% of cardholders used the library in the last year. (That means that 26% of cardholders used the library more than 5 times a year and less than 25).

I’m going to quit picking on San Francisco and use San Antonio as my example base. Let’s use their population of 1,513,800 as listed in the lit. So, we can fairly assume that approx 1,059,660 people in San Antonio have library cards. We can also fairly assume that only 805,342 have used these cards in the last year- and 254,318 haven’t. So, these numbers show 708,458 people in San Antonio haven’t used the library AT ALL in the last year. This is 47% of the population!

Now, let’s look at the budget and break it down like CB4-

$13.96 per capita expenditure gives San Antonio Public Library a budget of a little over $21mm annually. That gives the library a budget of almost $20/library cardholder. This means the budget is $26/library USER. I could get into shades here and only count a percentage of the minimal users, but I won’t. (in San Fran that equals out to approx $117/USER). So, the 41% of cardholders that account for the library’s real circ numbers (especially the top 15 percent cardholders) are getting a STEAL. BTW, 15 percent of cardholders equals approx 20% of USERS that drive your real circ and stats. So, in San Antonio, that’s 158,949 people that are “heavy users”. That’s 10.5% of the total population uses the library on (at least) a bi-weekly basis. These people- even assuming that they only check out 1 item each every 25 times a year- account for 3,973,725 circs/year. That’s 62% of the library’s total circulation (6,374,109 in the year of these numbers)! Also, from the same source, that means they account for 93% of library visits (4,267,488 total)!!!! This is from a minority of cardholders/users and 11% of the population!

Please someone correct my math here- because this CAN’T BE RIGHT! If they account for at least 62% of circ, can we assume that 62% of the budget is devoted toward them? I think for this thought exercise we can. So, that’s approx $13,020,000 per year. Let’s break this into cost per heavy user- we get $81.91 each. That leaves 38% of the budget to cover the remaining user pop- costing about $9.90 for each one of them. This is fuzzy, I know, but I just think it’s an interesting way to look at it.

No matter how you look at it, about 10% of the population is actually using the library. Even at (one of) the lowest spending per capita library systems in the country, these people are getting a service that should cost them at least almost $82 each for a cost of about $14 each. Does anyone else see a problem with this? Can anyone explain to me why this is fair or right?