26 November 2006


Bob Molyneux, Chief Statistician at SirsiDynix, has published a preliminary comparison of comparable data from the two countries’ libraries that shows differences in how each country provisions library service and how the citizens of each use their libraries. The data are based on a set of 1000 US libraries serving populations of 50,000 to 2.5 million and data on similar Canadian libraries compiled by Don Mills, director of the Mississauga Library System in Ontario for 2003. (This is a part of the Normative Data Project for Libraries.)

Here are a few of the findings:

Mean population served: Canadian libraries, 244,000; US libraries, 183,000.
Number of volumes: Canadian libraries, 729,000; US libraries, 453,000.
Average full time equivalent staff: Canadian libraries, 133; US libraries, 83.
Total staff per capita; Canadian libraries, 12.71; US libraries, 11.69.
Volumes per capita: Canadian libraries, 2.9; US libraries, 2.5.
Current serials per 1000 population: Canadian libraries, 22.9; US libraries, 6.3.
Interlibrary loans per 1,000 population: Canadian libraries, 34.9; U.S. libraries, 71.1. Canadians visiting their libraries would be more likely to find a periodical (and book for that matter, as we see) than a U.S. citizen and, hence, less likely to need to borrow something on ILL.
Visits per capita: Canadian libraries, 5.6; US libraries, 4.4.
Circulations per capita: Canadian libraries, 9.2; US libraries, 6.9.
Public use terminals per 5000 population: Canadian libraries, 2.1; US libraries, served 2.5.
U.S. public libraries spend more than Canadian libraries on all of the financial ratios used most commonly in the United States. A few of the differences are substantial.

There will be further work on this topic ahead.

Source and URL:
SirsiDynix One Source, 9 January 2006

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