This paper discusses statistical analyses of the effect of reductions in opening hours on book issues of public library authorities (PLAs). Monthly issue statistics over a three‐ to four‐year period for twenty‐six libraries in four PLAs (Sheffield, Ealing, Hereford and Worcester, and Lancashire) were analysed using graphic analysis and time series modelling. The results, with one or two exceptions, showed little, if any, significant relationship between reductions in hours and book issues. There were indications that other variables such as seasonality, patterns of opening hours and the accessibility of other libraries might be masking any impact. Annual issue and book fund statistics over a twenty‐three year period for libraries in Sheffield PLA were also analysed. This latter investigation suggests that reductions in the level of issues, related to both opening hours and materials expenditure, are discernible after a period of about two years. One model showed that the impact of opening hours cuts may be discernible within a year, materials fund cuts after a lag of one to two years. The study demonstrates clearly the difficulties involved in using statistical data to make accurate predictions of the impact of individual reductionsin opening hours on book issues. It identifies a number of variables which may affect the impact of reductions.
Journal of Documentation – Emerald Publishing
Published: Dec 1, 2000
Keywords: Public libraries; Library services; Funding
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