Released last week, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives’ report about the state of the Toronto Public Library system, entitled The Great Equalizer, offered a wealth of information about where and how millions of Torontonians get their information. But beyond the many reasons for governments to maintain funding support for the TPL, the report put libraries in some intriguing context. Here are a few thoughts.
» Libraries are more popular than Canada’s Wonderland. In fact, the 19 million visitors to our libraries in 2011 was more than the number of people who visited Toronto’s 10 biggest arts and entertainment attractions combined, including TIFF, the AGO, and the CN Tower.
» The most popular days for borrowing materials are Tuesday and Saturday. Reasons for the latter are obvious, but we’re not really sure about the former.
» They’re doing more with less. Staffing levels are 25 per cent lower than in 1992, yet the TPL had more users than ever in 2011.
» Libraries served 73 per cent of the 99 per cent. Nearly three quarters of Torontonians visit the library, and usage doesn’t vary too drastically by income—only a few percentage points for people below $30,000 all the way to $99,000.
» The TPL is cheap. It only costs each taxpayer a mere 17 cents a day.