Prelude: Given it's education and income level, Sunnyvale residents may very well want a bigger main library and several branch libraries. This can be acheived through expansion and renovation - not tearing down the existing building. BUT, Sunnyvale's library is by no means worse than average within the state. It is in fact, dead average in floor space, and above average in several other metrics.
1. Summary: I show (using CA state library data for all library systems in CA) that Sunnyvale's library size is bigger (sometimes much bigger) than most comparably sized cities (on a per person basis). Sunnyvale residents may want an even bigger library than the average for California. This should be done in the same way that others have done it - by adding on and renovating the existing library and converting some park buildings into libraries. We see that out of 10 library systems closest to Sunnyvale's size only 2 - Torrance and Pasadena - have bigger systems (per capita). Out of 36 other library systems of comparable size to Sunnyvale, only 20% have bigger library systems. They achieve this mainly with lots of little branch libraries similar in size to our park buildings. Sunnyvale can certainly do this and far more cost effectively than by tearing down our current library.
2. Sunnyvale Library Size Compared to CA Average:
There are a number of publicly available documents summarizing key data for libraries in the State of California. One from the CA State Library web site is reached by going to
Key Ratios and Performance Indicators-FY 2010-11
gets you here:
This is a table which you can sort by clicking on any column heading to sort by that statistic. If we choose square feet per person we get the following (click on image to enlarge):
For all of CA: (Total Sq. Ft. of All CA Libraries) / (Total CA Population) = 0.4348
For Sunnyvale: (Sunnyvale Library Sq. Ft.)/(Sunnyvale Population) = 0.4309
This puts Sunnyvale at the State average to 2 significant figures. Only the town of Hemet (in So. CA) is any closer to the average for all of California.
3. Sunnyvale Library Size Compared to Same Sized CA Cities:
How does Sunnyvale's library "square feet per person" compare to comparably sized CA cities? This is easy to find with the same online database (which is also downloadable as an Excel Spread Sheet). Sorting by population we get the following (click on image to enlarge):
Torrance: (listed here: https://www.torranceca.gov/Library/5516.htm ) If you look at the Torrance branch libraries using Google satellite and street views, you see they are little more than the size of our city park buildings (following are 3 examples).
|Torrance El Retiro Park Branch Library|
|Torrance SE Branch Library|
|Torrance Henderson Branch Library|
4. How Other Cities Get More Library Space
Pasadena: (listed here: http://cityofpasadena.net/library/about_the_library/locations_and_hours/ )
The Pasadena Public Library is a famous 1927 building on the National Register of Historic Buildings. It was modernized and enlarged several times to it's current size of 130,000 square feet. It is worth a view (click to enlarge):
|Pasadena's Historic Library - Preserved, Enlarged and Modernized|
|Lovely old preserved interior|
|This main library has been enlarged to 130,000 sq. ft|
|Modernized interior of the preserved and enlarged library|
As I mentioned you can download in Excel spreadsheet format many of the documents listed on the CA Library Website. I downloaded "Public Library Survey Data (2010-11 Fiscal Year) (635 KB XLS)" and after sorting by size of the "Library Service Area" (LSA) got the following 38 library systems near Sunnyvale in population (click to enlarge):
So what can we conclude? That if we want more library space comparable to other similar sized cities, we should enlarge the current library and convert neighborhood park buildings into branch libraries. I showed how one library with the same square footage as ours managed to double their total space from 60,000 sq. ft. to 120,000 modernized sq. ft. in:
I covered library costs for expansion and new construction in:
I showed other library expansion plans in:
5. How does Sunnyvale's library compare in other regards?
I asked the City for a reference to the 2007 library needs assessment study and they promptly sent me this link:
It mentions on page 90 of the "Community Needs Assessment" document a report compiled annually by the California State Library called "California Library Statistics". The latest I could find is for 2012 (covering 2010-2011) located here:
This has page after page of tables comparing every community library system in California. On page after page we see Sunnyvale either at or far above the state average for many items - FTE staff per person, etc., etc.
Here are some comparisons that didn't make it into the "Needs Assessment" study. From "StatsPub11.pdf" available at the web site mentioned above.
Page 8 of the document: "Expenditures Per Capita FY 2009-2010"
-> CA avg: $32.70 <-
San Jose: $35.99
San Rafael $39.87
San Bruno $44.01
* Sunnyvale: $50.20 *
San Mateo $50.24
Santa Clara $61.32
Mountain View $62.70
Menlo Park $69.95
San Mateo Co $65.44
Santa Clara Co $79.91
(Not a comprehensive list)
Sunnyvale is well above the CA avg and towards the lower end of the middle range of local communities. But this has to be taken with some recognition of population. You wouldn't take the average income of Richtown of pop. 1,000 at $200,000 and a working class Bigcity of 1,000,000 at $50,000 and then declare that average salary in the two cities is ($250,000 / 2) for the total population of the two cities. That would effectively result in counting each Richtown resident as equal to over 1,000 Bigcity residents. So not counting San Jose really skews the data. Omitting San Jose as ABA ("Anderson Brule' Associates") did in their "Needs Assessment" document cited on the Sunnyvale web site is misleading.
Some more data from StatPubs12.PDF:
Materials Expenditures Per Capita: CA Avg = $2.68, Sunnyvale = $4.27 (pg 13)
Circulation Per Capita: CA Avg. = 6.41, Sunnyvale = 17.89 (pg 17)
Visits Per Capita: Avg. = 4.41, Sunnyvale = 5.19 (pg 19)
There's a ton of other data more relevant to whether we need more library space which I'll get to later (I still think we should expand Sunnyvale's library space, just not by selling the Civic Center).
- Michael Goldman