Growing up going to the library every week was a staple in many children’s routines. We would look at the endless walls filled with books and happily sit down for story time. However, we were oblivious to how complex the public library system in Florida actually is.
The Florida Division and Information Services released a series of statistics based around the public library system in Florida during the 2019–2020 fiscal year. We looked at the different aspects that compose the libraries within each of Florida’s 67 counties. Let’s explore valuable information about libraries that we grew up visiting here in Florida.
As kids, we went to the library whenever we needed to access information. Nowadays the way we access information looks a little different. With the ever-growing digital presence in our world today, the way that information is obtained from library resources has changed.
Libraries not only have computers that are free for the public to use to do things like surf the web, but now they also offer their resources like books, data sets, and articles completely digitally.
The Broward County Public Library system has the highest total of online users with over 600,000. This online access to library resources has reformed the way that we access information today. Rather than physically going to the library and looking through resources, library patrons can now access all of the same information from the comfort of their own homes.
Another integral part of our library memories is the staff. We all had a favorite librarian that we would always go to for book recommendations or join their story times. As specialists, they definitely knew what to suggest. Of the state's 67 counties, a vast majority has at least two full-time employees with a master librarian degree. But this is not required.
On average, most of the counties have over 20 full-time employees that went to college to get specialized in the field. Surprisingly, there are 19 counties that did not even reported this information.
By contrast, Hillsborough County in Tampa has 249 full-time employees with a M.L.S degree. This makes Hillsborough the leader. Aside from Hillsborough, there are other counties such as Lee, Broward, Orange, and Pinellas county with a high number of full-time employees with a master’s degree. We never realized just how much time and effort was put in by the librarians to give us the best experience possible.
As blissfully unaware kids, we never stopped to think about just how much money is put into our public libraries to keep them running. Public libraries in Florida generated about $21 million in revenue in 2019 to 2020. To our surprise, counties with smaller populations used most of the state funds but unfortunately generated less revenue for Florida.
Compared to southern Florida counties, the northern ones like Lafayette and Wakulla used over 40% of the state’s funds but only made $1 million in revenue. Smaller counties rely on state funds since they have a small population, there are barely any tax dollars put into public libraries.