City of Austin Performance Report 2014-15
Visits per Capita
Visits per capita is a standard indicator in the library industry. The “per capita” measure provides a simple indicator of how much “repeat” business a library receives.
This measure is calculated by dividing the total annual visits at all library facilities by the corresponding full-purpose population figure.
FY 2014-15 Results
The goal for this measure was established at 4.37. The Library did not meet the goal, with an actual result of 3.54.
Assessment of Results
The above chart illustrates the five-year history of visits per capita at Austin Public Library (APL). From FY 2010-11 to FY 2014-15 this indicator has declined every year, from 4.45 to 3.54 visits per capita. This indicator is a function of the number of visits in relation to population, and therefore the total number of visits must increase each year in direct proportion to population or a resulting decrease in the measure will be realized. During this 5 year time period the number of visits to libraries has declined 13% while the city’s population has increased 12%.
The number of customer visits has declined annually from 3.5 million in FY 2010-11 to 3.0 million in FY 2014-15. In addition to population growth, several factors may contribute to the long term decline in customer visits per capita. The 8-hour-a-week decrease in operating hours at the Faulk Central Library in FY 2011-12 followed a similar reduction to library branches that occurred in FY 2008-09. Prior to the budget reductions, the number of customer visits was increasing every year. The periodic closure of branches over the past 7 years for renovation and major repairs is certainly a factor; however the growth in digital materials circulation is also a contributing factor as patrons no longer need to visit a library to take advantage of library services. In FY 2014-15, 9 full-time equivalent positions were added to increase the hours at the branch libraries. The goal of 4.37 reflects an anticipated increase in customer visits, which unfortunately, was not realized.
The complete restoration of operating hours to pre-reduction levels is certainly welcomed as the Library strives to meet the demands of patrons. Temporary closures of branches for scheduled renovations may negatively impact customer visits and other activity counts. Opening in fall 2016, the New Central Library, often touted as ‘the library of the future’, is expected to draw at least twice the number of customer visits than its predecessor. It is anticipated that FY 2016-17 visits per capita will reflect this increased usage.
For more information contact Victoria Rieger, Library Financial Manager, at (512) 974-7446.