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Wider and Wiser Units

An article entitled "Are Wider Units Wiser?"  by Thomas J. Hennen Jr. appeared in the June/July 2002 issue of American Libraries, the official publication of the American Library Association.  These pages expand on that article.  

It asks the question - what form of public library organization delivers the best library service?  For many years library leaders have told us that “wider units of service” will produce better library services.  The article examines some of the issues, using national data.  Although far more study is needed, the national data suggest to the author that, in most cases, wider units of library service are, indeed, wiser. 

We cannot compare how well a library may have fared had its planners chosen a different road in the past.  We can only compare the results for the roads taken by other libraries in different areas of the country, hoping that the comparisons will help library planners choose wisely in the future. 

Type of Library organization States with this type Number  States with this library type Percent of all U.S. Libraries Percent of U.S. Popul.  served Per capita average Operating Expend
Municipal ALL BUT:  GA, HI, MD, PA, WY 46 54.6% 34.2% $23.69
County/Parish ALL BUT:  CT, DC, HI, ID, IL, MA, ME, NH, PA, RI, VT, WA 39 11.4% 33.9% $19.10
Non-profit/ agency AK, CO, CT, ID, MA, ME, MN, MO, NC, NH, NJ. NM, NY, OH, OR, RI, TX, VT 18 9.8% 3.1% $27.82
Special District AL, AZ, CA, CO, DE, FL, ID, IL, KS, KY, LA, MI, MT, NV, NY, OR, TX, VT, WA 19 8.6% 8.5% $29.65
Multi-jurisdictional AK, AL, AR, CA, CO, FL, GA, IN, KS, KY, LA, MN, MO, MS, MT, NC, ND, NH, NJ, NM, OK, SD, TX, VA, VT, WI, WV 29 5.6% 9.9% $23.52
School District ID, MI, NY, OH, OR, WI, WV 7 3.6% 2.7% $42.20
City-County FL, LA, MN, MO, MS, ND, TX, UT, WI 9 0.6% 2.0% $14.70
Miscellaneous AR, CO, HI, IA, IL, IN, KS, MN, MO, NE, NM, NY, PA, TN, TX, VA 15 0.4% 1.3% $18.45
Indian or Tribal AK, AZ, NM, NY, WI 5 0.3% 0.1% $39.83
Unclassified PA 1 5.3% 4.4% $13.17
Totals   -- 100.0% 100.0% $24.16
 

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