Library Patronage

The Champaign Public Library, a building featuring modern architecture, low-to-the-ground landscaping, and a large metal sign reading "LIBRARY."

What is the indicator?

The library patronage indicator measures the percentage of the total resident population served by each public library (the percentage of eligible residents that holds an unexpired library card). Ten public libraries and public library districts in Champaign County are included: the Champaign Public Library, the Homer Community Library, the Mahomet Public Library District, the Ogden Rose Public Library, the Philo Public Library District, the Rantoul Public Library, the St. Joseph Township-Swearingen Memorial Library, the Sidney Community Library, the Tolono Public Library District, and the Urbana Free Library.

 

What does the data say? Are there any notable trends?

 

Library Patronage

  2015 2016 
LibraryPopulationNumber of Unexpired Resident Users Cards% of Population with Library CardsNumber of Unexpired Resident Users Cards% of Population with Library Cards
Champaign Public Library81,05531,55538.9%29,13035.9%
Homer Community Library1,19359549.9%53845.1%
Mahomet Public Library District12,6236,08948.2%7,00455.5%
Ogden Rose Public Library81017822.0%17021.0%
Philo Public Library District1,95463932.7%58029.7%
Rantoul Public Library12,9414,33833.5%3,75029.0%
St. Joseph Township-Swearingen Memorial Library5,8761,87631.9%1,56526.6%
Sidney Community Library1,23336029.2%35729.0%
Tolono Public Library District11,6753,79732.5%3,50530.0%
Urbana Free Library41,25012,59230.5%12,45430.2%

 

The steps and patio of the Urbana Free Library, a stone building partially covered with ivy and featuring columns and other architectural details and green-and-white striped awnings.

In 2015, six of the 10 libraries and library districts included in the measure had residential participation rates of roughly 30 percent: Philo Public Library District, 32.7%; Rantoul Public Library, 33.5%; St. Joseph Township-Swearingen Memorial Library, 31.9%; Sidney Community Library, 29.2%; Tolono Public Library District, 32.5%; and the Urbana Free Library, 30.5%. The populations served by these libraries and library districts vary widely.

Still looking at the 2015 data, there seems to be no correlation between the size of the served population and the participation rate. Homer Community Library, with one of the smallest served populations (1,193) had the highest participation rate in 2015, at 49.9%. However, Ogden Rose Public Library, which has the smallest served population (810), had the lowest participation rate in 2015, at 22.0%. The second-highest participation rate in 2015 went to the Mahomet Public Library District, with a rate of 48.2% and a served population of over 12,000. The two largest libraries in terms of population served, the Champaign Public Library (81,055) and the Urbana Free Library (41,250) had a slightly above-average and an average participation rate in 2015, respectively (38.9% and 30.5%).

In 2016, five libraries maintained participation rates between 29% and 31%: Philo Public Library District, Rantoul Public Library, Sidney Community Library, Tolono Public Library District, and the Urbana Free Library. The lack of correlation between the size of the served population and the participation rate is also present in 2016.

All libraries except the Mahomet Public Library District saw a decrease in residential participation (the Mahomet Public Library District saw an increase of 915 resident cardholders, or 7.2 percentage points). The largest decrease in terms of number of resident cardholders was experienced by the Champaign Public Library (2,425 cardholders); the smallest decrease in terms of resident cardholders was experienced by the Sidney Community Library (3 cardholders). Sidney Community Library also had the smallest decrease in percent of residents with library cards (0.2 percentage points), followed closely by the Urbana Free Library (0.3 percentage points). The St. Joseph Township-Swearingen Memorial Library had the largest decrease by percent of residents with library cards (5.3 percentage points).

 

Why is this important?/Why did we include it in our set of indicators?

Public libraries often serve as community hubs and offer a number of educational and social opportunities and services for their population served. Registration for and maintenance of a library card is one way a resident can engage in recreation and other community involvement.

 

Where did we get the data, and how often is it released?

Data was sourced from the Illinois Public Library Annual Report (IPLAR), an annual report fom the Illinois State Library and Office of the Illinois Secretary of State.

The population data included in the IPLAR dataset for both 2015 and 2016 years is sourced from the 2010 Census. To be consistent with the data source, we have also calculated the percentage of residents with library cards based on the number of cardholders divided by the total 2010 Census population. As the population in most of the areas analyzed is estimated to have risen (e.g., ACS population estimates from more recent years are greater than the 2010 Census counts), the participation percentages reflected in the table and analysis above may be slightly lower if calculated using more recent estimates.

 

Source: Illinois State Library, Office of the Illinois Secretary of State.