New DataLensDC data viz shows how DC's libraries are changing - Technical.ly DC

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Oct. 21, 2016 9:49 am

New DataLensDC data viz shows how DC’s libraries are changing

Spoiler: ebook availability has grown like crazy.

DCPL now looks (relatively) less like this.

(Photo by Flickr user Brittany Stevens, used under a Creative Commons license)

If you’ve walked into one of D.C.’s public libraries recently, you’ve probably noticed the front-and-center placement of various digital services. Think the Dream Lab, the Fab Lab and the Digital Commons at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library. And indeed this emphasis mirror years of research and think piece-ing about the transformation of public libraries for the digital age — if libraries want to continue to be useful community resources, they need to continue to adapt (technologically) to what that community needs.

But for Kate Rabinowitz and DataLensDC this kind of thinking is really just an assumption — until we see the data. In her most recent look at the District through data, Rabinowitz explores how D.C.’s public libraries have changed, with regards to their contents, over the past eight years. How do books compare to ebooks compare to audio and video products in the library’s collection?

Essentially, IRL book fans will be happy to know, books still dominate the DCPL collection. But the number of books has declined, relatively, in recent years — at least partly due to budget cuts. Meanwhile, ebooks, video and audio have only increased. Ebooks especially have really taken off recently. “Their collection has increased tenfold since 2011,” Rabinowitz writes.

Here’s a relative look at DCPL resources:

(Graphic via DataLensDC)

(Graphic via DataLensDC)

Rabinowitz’s further finding? DCPL seems to be on the right track with where the organization spends its resources and attention. In fact, both circulation and library visits have approximately doubled over the past eight years. Read on for more great graphs and analysis on DataLensDC here, or in Greater Greater Washington here.

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