STATISTICS FOR THOUGHT by Elise Burke, Executive Assistant, Westchester Library System

At this year’s WLS Annual Meeting, I got to thinking.  Being responsible for putting together the WLS Member Library Statistics, I always like to hear about different statistics that are gathered or about ideas for presenting statistics to show the meaning behind the numbers.

The video shown about WLS featured, in my opinion, one of the most powerful services WLS provides – and that is the cooperative, reciprocal borrowing throughout the county made available via the WLS Delivery.  Once you have your library card, you can borrow materials from any one of the 38 libraries in Westchester.  In the video, Terry Kirchner says, “Think of what it would cost if the libraries had to buy those materials borrowed. That’s a huge cost savings.”  So I decided to try to calculate how much that might be.

I started with the total number of intralibrary loan materials reported on the 2016 Annual Reports of 1,006,659.  The data showing what items were borrowed is deleted for that time period to protect privacy.  Instead I looked at a sampling from a more current time period available and applied those percentages for books and audio-visual materials (audio books, music CDs and movies).  I then looked at the Library Value Calculator to get average prices for these materials.  These calculations (see chart) resulted in a total savings of:



Not only do these savings apply to libraries but also to library users and communities. The WLS Delivery is in part supported by Westchester County—what a great investment for all.