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Report: San Diego Has More Libraries, Less Patronage Than Comparable Cities

San Diego has more libraries than comparable cities, but less-than-average staffing levels and patronage, according to a report presented today to the City Council's Budget Committee.

The data, compiled by the city's independent budget analyst, established benchmarks that will be used to set spending amounts in future budgets. The presentation also focused on San Diego's park system.

Both the library and parks departments barely avoided significant budget cuts last year.


San Diego had 36 libraries in the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2010, compared to an average of 25 among eight comparable cities.

The only town in the IBA report larger in population than San Diego was Phoenix. Others, like Dallas and San Jose, are smaller but relatively close in the amount of residents.

The IBA said all the cities have similar library systems to San Diego, composed of a main library and neighborhood branches.

San Diego's libraries in the 2010 fiscal year had the equivalent of 372 full-time employees, below the eight-city average of 432, according to the IBA. San Diego was well behind peers in employees per 1,000 residents.

Libraries in San Diego averaged just over four visits per person in fiscal year 2010, compared to an average of just over six per resident. Only Dallas and Phoenix had less library visits.


San Diego was last in circulation per 1,000 residents -- the amount of material checked out by patrons -- about half the average and one-third of the leading cities.

The parks comparison looked at other major cities in California. San Diego has more than triple the amount of parkland per 1,000 residents than any other large town in the state, and total acreage is second to Los Angeles.

San Diego was about average in per capita numbers of recreation centers, playgrounds and public swimming pools.

Councilman Kevin Faulconer said the data will be helpful in determining future service levels.