Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Push back on the false claim that the library is not used

The underutilization claim is false.

There are fourteen libraries in Saint Paul’s library system. The Hamline-Midway library has consistently ranked in the top half related to attendance at juvenile and adult events over the past three years. Use of its meeting rooms is in the top quartile of all Saint Paul libraries. In fact, the Hamline-Midway library does not rank last in any usage category.

Even in categories in which the Hamline-Midway library has a low rank, the raw statistics are misleading.

For example, the Hamline-Midway library ranks 12th out of 14 in “internet use.” The ranking, however, does not adjust for the number of computers available at each library or the fact that the Hamline-Midway library is not open as many hours as other libraries. Of course the Rondo Community library is ranked first and the West 7th library is ranked last, because the Rondo Community library has the most computers of any other library in the entire system and the West 7th library has the least number of computers in the entire system. When the number of computers and hours are taken into consideration, the internet usage at the Hamline-Midway library is comparable and often higher than the computer usage at other libraries. The current rankings do not create an accurate picture.

Based on the annual budget and square footage of the Hamline-Midway library in comparison to its circulation numbers, it is actually one of the most efficient and inexpensive libraries in the city. It is all in how you look at and calculate the numbers.

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