Does Your Library Count?
The Maine State Library (MSL) gets many requests every year from Maine libraries and Maine newspapers for statistical information. Libraries often need to compare their collection size, salaries, and other information with libraries serving other communities of their size. MSL can’t provide this information, if you don’t provide it to us. Each library in Maine is vital to making the reporting process accurate and useful for all Maine libraries. [Try using the statistics worksheets]
When reviewing your library's statistics in relation to those of another library, be sure to consider the differences in the communities the libraries operate in and differences in the ways libraries count statistics.
For example, circulation periods can vary between libraries and even between different types of materials in the same library. To compare total circulation between libraries with different circulation periods, use the following formula:
- A = 2 week circulation total
- B = 3 week circulation total
- A divided by (A+ B) X 100 = A%
- B divided by (A + B) X 100 = B%
- A% + B% = 100%
How Statistics are Used by the State Library
When the State Librarian goes to the legislature to ask for support for libraries: e.g. the MARVEL! databases, MSLN and circuit rider support to name a few, it is critical that she know the current status of Maine libraries. Without that information, our requests for legislative support are hollow. For example, when former State Librarian Gary Nichols first asked the legislature for database (MARVEL!) funding, he used data from the annual reports to name libraries in Maine that received only a few periodicals and libraries that received several hundred. This disparity helped equalize access to newspapers, magazines and reference books in all libraries across Maine.
Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) money from the federal government funds MSL’s Outreach Services, which includes talking books and large print books, serving all visually impaired Maine citizens. The national statistical reports that Jenny Melvin, State Data Coordinator, prepares and submits, based on the annual reports you give us, help support this funding and federal legislation related to libraries. The data are also used for policymaking decisions by both federal and state officials.
The Maine library world is small, and the support that libraries of all types show one another has always been one of the things we admire most about it. When you submit your annual report, you are not only helping Maine libraries but libraries across the nation.