The data in the two series documented here PLDF3 and particularly PUSUM are designed to be used in examining trends. The latter can give us a picture of U.S. public libraries viewed as a national system. This page will provide a link to such analysis. After ALA, I will add to this work but for now, there are three trends examined. The first, however, is not new but, rather, is to correct an error I made in the soon to be out Library and Book Trade Almanac. The error is quite embarassing and I will start to correct it here. Most of the analysis in that article is sound and worthy of developing in more detail but the basic analysis of the effects of inflation on U.S. public libraries is revised here.
Library and Book Trade Almanac— (LBTA)
The error in analysis I made in an article that appears in the current issue of Library and Book Trade Almanac (54th edition), pp. 415-419. I have an article entitled Library Budget Dollars Shrinking in Real Terms—Are We Eating Our Seed Corn? (ISBN: 978-1-57387-349-9) that attempted to analyze the effect of inflation on U.S. Public Libraries. I made an error in my calculations and here I will correct the major ones in a page dealing with those calculations. The error is related to assessing the effects of inflation on libraries. We all know those effects are important and that article was an attempt to assess those effects on public libraries using available data. My analysis overestimated that effect. The news is better than that article conclude while scarcely being good. Through FY 2006—the latest data available at the time of the analysis for the LBTA article—those effects were not as dire as I said. We now have more data (through FY 2007) and we have the experience of the last few years that there are not yet data to analyze. I correct through FY 2007 here but it appears from recent news that events have conspired to make my conclusions premature. Alas.
This correcting analysis is focussed on total expenditures at public libraries in the states plus those in the District of Columbia and estimates what effects inflation has on those total expenditures. Clearly, the purchasing power of each dollar changes over time. The analysis shows that public library budgets have increased…but what are the effects of inflation on those budgets and how does inflation affect the actual purchasing power of each dollar in those budgets? This is a difficult question. In LBTA, I concluded, incorrectly, that the real purchasing power had fallen for total operating expenditures in real terms. That is not true through FY 2007 as I now know. However, the effects of inflation are severe. Moreover, the conclusion that the purchasing power for expenditures on collections had fallen.
I have also included a page that I can expand on in time related to the measurement of the effects of inflation on libraries. This is a first approximation of where I think we are with this kind of analysis.
In article that appeared in 2007 Squeeze Play: Public Library Circulation and Budget Trends, FY1992-FY2004, Public Library Quarterly, (26, 3/4, 2007, pp. 101-107) I attempted a dynamic interpretation of public library trends using state level data from PUSUM the longitudinal file of state summary data… The tables and charts that will follow in many cases are updates of examinations from “Squeeze Play”
Total circulations at US public libraries have continued to rise as have circulations per capita.