Utah libraries performance, 2013

It may not be apparent that open data can exist and be provided not only on a city, but also on a state level. This allows us to find more diverse information that goes beyond the boundaries of a single city and enables us to see a bigger picture. This is how we may find this dataset about Utah libraries from 2013. We can also observe the bar chart with the visits per capita at Utah libraries, which shows that the first three libraries with the most visits were the Salt Lake City Public Library, North Logan City Library and Park City Library. But people who won't look at the data, might mistakenly believe that this is the only information that the dataset holds. It turns out that it is slightly richer than that. It has the library name, address (street and city) and additional information like total materials per capita, circulation per capita, turnover rate, reference transactions per capita, visits per capita, operating expenditures per capita and service level index. By visualizing a single quantitative column then, we are effectively using only a small fraction of the information contained within the dataset (not optimal). It is preferable to have a more balanced view that does not exclude information.

We notice that not all quantitative columns refer to something positive for a library. For instance, while it is good to have more total materials per capita, higher circulation per capita, higher reference transactions per capita, higher visits per capita and higher service level index, it is not good to have a higher turnover rate or higher operating expenditures per capita. Since the last two columns are in the negative sense, we could try to invert these numbers in order to imbue them with a positive sense so as to have more homogenous data before proceeding.

Then, we could scale the data and sum the numbers in each row of the matrix to obtain a score indicating how a library does across all dimensions of interest, given that they are of equal weight. If the minimal score is negative, we can add the absolute value of this number to all scores to make them positive. This is how we obtain the following result.

Library Name Street, City Result
Newton Town Library 51 South Center Street, Newton 19.68
Mt. Pleasant Public Library 24 East Main Street, Mt. Pleasant 12.63
North Logan City Library 475 East 2500 North, North Logan 10.37
Lewiston Public Library 33 South Main Street, Lewiston 8.43
Minersville Public Library 40 West Main Street, Minersville 8.15
Grand County Public Library 257 East Center St, Moab 7.87
Milford Public Library 400 South 100 West, Milford 7.69
Salt Lake City Public Library 210 East 400 South, Salt Lake City 7.35
Gunnison Civic Library 38 West Center Street, Gunnison 7.26
Parowan Public Library 16 South Main Street, Parowan 6.46
Garland Public Library 86 West Factory Road, Garland 6.46
Richmond Public Library 38 West Main Street, Richmond 6.27
Brigham City Library 26 East Forest Street, Brigham City 6.13
Manti City Library 02 South Main Street, Manti 5.84
Emery County Library 145 North 1St East, Castle Dale 5.44
Park City Library 1255 Park Avenue, Park City 5.09
Nephi Public Library 21 East 100 North, Nephi 4.83
Uintah County Library 204 E 100 N, Vernal 4.76
Delta City Library 76 North 200 West, Delta 4.65
President Millard Fillmore Library 25 South 100 West, Fillmore 4.59
Price City Library 159 East Main Street, Price 4.51
Monroe Public Library 55 North Main Street, Monroe 4.49
Hyrum Library 50 West Main Street, Hyrum 4.48
Kanab City Library 374 North Main Street, Kanab 4.05
Orem Public Library 58 North State Street, Orem 3.99
Richfield Public Library 83 East Center Street, Richfield 3.99
Helper City Library 19 South Main Street, Helper 3.98
Morgan County Library 50 North 100 West, Morgan 3.73
Summit County Library 1885 W. Ute Blvd., Park City 3.72
Beaver Public Library 55 West Center Street, Beaver 3.70
Logan Library 255 North Main Street, Logan 3.44
San Juan County Library 25 West 300 South, Blanding 3.19
American Fork City Library 64 South 100 East, American Fork 2.81
Salem City Library 59 South Main Street, Salem 2.72
Provo City Library 550 North University Avenue, Provo 2.66
Wasatch County Library 465 East 1200 South, Heber City 2.64
Smithfield Library 25 North Main Street, Smithfield 2.48
Pleasant Grove Public Library 30 East Center Street, Pleasant Grove 2.00
Santaquin City Library 20 West 100 South, Santaquin 1.84
Salina Public Library 90 West Main Street, Salina 1.69
Duchesne County Library 130 S Center Street, Duchesne 1.56
Davis County Library 133 S Main Street, Farmington 1.53
Washington County Library System 88 West 100 South, St. George 1.52
Salt Lake County Library System 8030 South 1825 West, West Jordan 1.41
Eagle Mountain Public Library 1650 E. Stagecoach Run, Eagle Mountain 1.07
Payson City Library 66 South Main Street, Payson 0.97
Highland City Library 5400 W Civic Center Dr, Suite 2, Highland 0.96
Tooele City Public Library 128 West Vine Street, Tooele 0.70
Iron County Bookmobile Library 4763 North Santa Fe Trail, Enoch 0.47
Murray Public Library 166 East 5300 South, Murray 0.29
Saratoga Springs Public Library 1307 N Commerce Dr., Saratoga Springs 0.00

We see that the libraries which appeared in top 3 in terms of visits per capita are now surpassed by other libraries when it comes to overall performance determined by all dimensions. This is important, since a library could achieve higher visits per capita while having very high operational expenses, for instance. By the new criteria, only North Logan City Library still appears in top 3. We can also visualize the result to understand the numbers:

Overall performance of libraries in Utah, 2013

Newton Town Library has performed really well even when it didn't get the most visitors per capita. If the measurements were correct, consistent and comparable, then it comes surprising that some libraries in smaller cities can perform at least as good as the Salt Lake City Public Library, for instance.