May 25, 2022

Arizona: “Phoenix Libraries Chasing Vanishing Readers Online”

From The Republic (Phoenix):

The Maricopa County Library District, which operates 17 libraries across the Valley, has recorded big annual growth in circulation of electronic material over the past five years. In fiscal year 2009-10, the district saw about 43,500 electronic checkouts. By 2011-12, that number grew to more than 400,000, and in 2013-14 it was more than double to 810,000.


Compared with drastic cuts in other cities, Phoenix Public Library’s budget has only moderately decreased since 2009. The library saw the biggest cut when it dropped from $37.3 million in 2009-10 to $35 million in 2010-11. Since then, the operating budget has increased gradually, according to city records. In 2014-15, the budget was set at $36.1 million by the Phoenix City Council.


While downloadable materials draw virtual customers, officials are still trying to figure out how to get people physically in the doors. In Glendale, city officials are considering an offer to sell one library branch and reopen the library at a recreation center.


Glendale, the largest city on the Valley’s west side, has recorded a steady decrease in physical attendance. More than 885,000 people visited the Glendale library during 2010-11, but that number has dropped each year. In 2013-14, it was at less than 675,000.

The Glendale library’s budget also decreased steadily from more than $6.3 million in 2010-11 to about $4.5 million in 2013-14.


Goodyear [Arizona] stands out as the only municipality of the five that has seen a steady increase of in-person visits over the last five years. It recorded about 67,000 in-person visits in 2009-10; in 2013-14, that number was more than 106,000.

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About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.