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BY 4.0 license Open Access Published by De Gruyter Open Access November 8, 2022

If You Build It, They Might Not Come: The Effects of Socioeconomic Predictors on Library Activity and Funding

  • Michael Carlozzi EMAIL logo
From the journal Open Information Science


Many surveys have suggested that U.S. public library usage correlates with socioeconomic status and race; persons identifying as Non-Hispanic White, highly-educated, and affluent claim to use library services at a rate greater than those not belonging to these groups. These findings suggests that the dominant model of library service—a brick and mortar localized service point—interfaces poorly with marginalized and disenfranchised persons. This paper combines Public Library Survey and American Community Survey data for 49 U.S. states to explore the relationship between socioeconomic variables and public library usage. Using Bayesian hierarchical modeling, this paper finds corroboration for these surveys at the “community-level,” i.e., communities with higher socioeconomic status and more Non-Hispanic Whiteness are associated with greater levels of library activity. It also finds, using propensity score matching, that local funding is strongly associated with library activity, underscoring the importance of funding advocacy. The analysis suggests that U.S. library administrators who aim to reach marginalized and disenfranchised persons might want to consider service models alternate to the dominant brick and mortar model.


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Received: 2021-10-01
Accepted: 2022-06-12
Published Online: 2022-11-08

© 2022 Michael Carlozzi, published by De Gruyter

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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