Library Total Monthly Circulation

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Public Library

Target: 916,666 materials circulated per month

Result: 11,092,406 materials circulated

Circulation is a measure of the number of physical and electronic library materials circulated to the public each month. It includes Main Library and branch libraries, including Bookmobiles, Jail and Reentry Services, and the Juvenile Justice Center, and electronic print, audio and visual materials downloaded or streamed through the Library’s website. Library circulation is an important measure of utilization throughout the system.



How Public Library is Performing

The total monthly circulation of both physical and electronic materials for FY 2017-18 remained steadily at or above target, with overall circulation increasing over the past three years. Monthly circulation in FY 2017-18 was 924,367, compared with an average of 899,924 in FY 2016-17 and 898,195 in FY 2015-16.

Consistent with the experience of urban libraries around the country, the San Francisco Public Library has seen a gradual trend of reduced patron demand for physical materials as patrons now increasingly demand access to digital content and online resources. Overall, circulation of physical materials declined an average of about 5 percent annually from FY 2014-15 to FY 2017-18; conversely, circulation of eBooks and eMedia (e.g., downloadable audiobooks, streaming movies and music, and digital magazines) increased an average of about 24 percent from FY 2014-15 to FY 2017-18. In FY 2012-13, electronic materials comprised only five percent of overall circulation, but by FY 2017-18, they comprised about 21 percent of total circulation.

The FY 2018-19 collection expenditures as a percentage of operating budget is 12 percent. The library is undertaking a number of strategic initiatives to maintain the robustness of its physical and digital collections in order to meet residents’ demand for books, periodicals, music and video content. SFPL budgeted $2.7 million for children’s materials in FY 2018-19, and will increase the children’s materials budget by four percent in FY 2019-20 to maintain strong children's print allocations and have sufficient funds for outreach and collaborative projects with the Mayor's Office of Children and Youth, SFUSD, Project HOPE and other youth-serving local organizations. In FY 2019-20 SFPL will increase its eCollections allocation by an additional 25 percent to meet growing demand. These investments are representative of the increased demand for digital content with stable demand for physical collections.

How Performance is Measured

Circulation statistics are generated from the Library’s automated circulation system. Reports are generated on a monthly basis.

The target circulation number for FY2018-19 is set as 916,666. “Meeting Target” means the monthly figure is 97.3% or higher than the target; “Needs Improvement” means it is between 97.3% and 94.3%; and “Not Meeting Target” means it is 94.3% or lower. These ranges have been determined using the average of monthly percentage changes in circulation numbers since FY 2012-13, as well as the standard deviation of the monthly percentage changes.

The number displayed on the scorecard page represents a fiscal year average of the values in the total monthly circulation chart above.

Additional Information

Visit the San Francisco Public Library's Main Page.


Please visit DataSF for the scorecard data.