The city’s independent budget analyst, Andrea Tevlin, has put out a report showing that some of the libraries that Mayor Jerry Sanders had proposed closing last year have larger attendance and circulate more materials than branches that weren’t threatened by the budget axe.
You may remember this was a point of contention among council members, who said they didn’t understand why those specific branches were being targeted to close the midyear budget gap. The mayor cited lower usage and circulation, as well as the proximity to other branches.
The report released today, based on figures from the 2007-08 budget year, shows that some of those branches had higher attendance than other branches that weren’t slated to be closed. For instance, the University Community library’s attendance is higher than the city average, and the Mountain View/Beckworth and Carmel Mountain branches had close to the city’s average branch attendance of about 162,000.
The same phenomenon holds true for circulation figures, which the report breaks out in several different measurements, such as circulation per square foot, to better compare large and small libraries.
The mayor proposed closing one library per council district, except in District 8. But the IBA’s report shows that even when you break down the results by district, the could-have-been-closed branches sometimes have better statistics than some of the other branches. For instance, in District 4, the Mountain View/Beckworth branch’s attendance ranks second out of the five libraries in that area.
In other cases, the branches that would have been closed do have the worst figures per council district, depending on the measurement used. For instance, the report states that the Allied Gardens/Benjamin branch has the lowest attendance in District 7 and the second-lowest among all branches citywide.
The report is slated to be discussed during Wednesday’s meeting of the Public Safety & Neighborhood Services Committee.
The city provides an interesting report for that meeting with more information about library usage, including data about the people who use computers at each branch.