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

  • Lara Skelly Cape Peninsula University of Technology
Keywords: Public libraries, Economic recession, Panel data, Saldanha Bay Municipality.


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.


Allen, R. 2009. Financial crises and recession in the global economy. 3rd ed. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.

Barry, L. 2009. Recession refuge. The News and Adventure. 13 April. [Online]. Available: [site accessed 31 August 2011].

Economist. 2010. Economics A-Z. [Online] Available: [site accessed 13 September 2010].

Fourie, I. 2007. Library and information structure in South Africa. In Bothma, T., Underwood, P. & Ngulube, P. (eds.) Libraries for the future: progress and development of South African libraries. Pretoria: LIASA. 25-42. [Online] Available: [site accessed 1 August 2011].

Gujarati, D. 2003. Basic econometrics. Boston: McGraw-Hill.

Hsiao, C. 1989. Analysis of panel data. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Keller, G. and Warrack, B. 2003. Statistics for management and economics. 6th ed. Pacific Grove, CA: Thomson Learning.

Koop, G. 2009. Analysis of economic data. 3rd ed. Chichester: Wiley.

Lance, K., Hofschire, L. and Daisey, J. 2011. The Impact of the Recession on Public Library Use in Colorado: a Closer Look Report. Denver, CO: Colorado State Library, Library Research Service. [Online] Available: [site accessed 15 October 2013].

Library Research Center. 2002. Public Library Use and Economic Hard Times: Analysis of Recent Data. [Online] Available: [site accessed 15 October 2013].

Mohr, P. 2000. Economic indicators. Rev. ed. Pretoria: Unisa Press.

Roller, W. 2008. Recession boosts use of library. YumaSun. 24 December. [Online]. Available: [site accessed 31 August 2011].

Western Cape Provincial Library Service. 2002. Annual Report. [Online]. Available: [site accessed 1 August 2011].

Research Articles