A bird’s eye view of Miami literacy

By | July 15th, 2011 | 9 Comments

Newly elected Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez is proposing closing 13 of the county’s 49 libraries in an effort to close a $400 million budget gap, the Herald reports. I understand the imperative to get Miami’s fiscal house in order, but shuttering 26 percent of libraries is the wrong way to do it, especially with counter-structures like casinos threatening to proliferate locally. This issue is begging for a soap-box stander, but I’m going to tackle it sans histrionics. The screenshots below show the library locations of several big cities. They are all zoomed to the same degree (10x). Draw your own conclusion as to whether Miami can afford to close more than a quarter of its public libraries if it still wants to call itself a world-class (or even a country-class) city.

Chicago

Map of Chicago Public Libraries

Population: 2.9 million
Libraries: 79
One library for every 36,708 people

New York City

Map of NYC Public Libraries

Population: 8.2 million
Libraries: 92
One library for every 89,130 people

Los Angeles

A map of Los Angeles Public Libraries

Population: 3.8 million
Libraries: 72
One library for every 52,777 people

Miami

A map of Miami-Dade County Public Libraries

Population: 2.5 million
Libraries: soon to be 36 (I erased 13 currently open libraries at random — these are NOT necessarily the branches slated for closure)
One library for every 69,444 people

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To this amateur statistician’s eye, Miami’s library system doesn’t look very good by comparison to other big cities’. As for NYC’s lower library-per-x-amount-of-people stat, I think the screenshot shows that those 92 libraries are squeezed into a pretty tight space, making them easier to access than Miami’s far flung branches.

So, proud peer perusers of Miami’s precious public libraries, what say you about Gimenez’s proposal?

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