Book Circulation in Saldanha Bay Municipality Libraries, South Africa during the 2008/2009 Economic Recession

Lara Skelly


Many authors have reported an increase in public library usage during times of economic recessions. These claims rely on anecdotal evidence, but the literature is lacking in statistical support. This paper attempts to add to the statistical literature by looking at library use of the ten libraries in the Saldanha Bay Municipal (Western Cape, South Africa) area during the 2008/2009 economic recession. Using the coincident index (which is a composite indicator including measures of employment and inflation) as the economic indicator and circulation data as the indicator of library use, a fixed effects dummy variable panel data model was created. Creating panel data sets allows one to have greater statistical confidence in the results. It also allows differences between libraries and over time to emerge. Multiple regressions were run, but the findings do not support the hypothesis that public library usage increases during economic recessions. This was tested for total circulation, adult fiction, juvenile circulation and adult non-fiction.


Public libraries; Economic recession; Panel data; Saldanha Bay Municipality.

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