February 2, 2021
Some of you might remember that I wrote a series of blog posts last year about the Super Bowl match between Kansas City and San Francisco. It really wasn’t until I started to think about it that I realized there were so many interesting connections between these two cities. With the Kansas City Chiefs returning to another Super Bowl, it seemed appropriate to write a new series!
If you follow me on social media, you might have noticed that I have a friendly bet with the library director of the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library. So, what exactly do we know about this library and how does it compare to Mid-Continent Public Library?
Our two libraries are similar in many ways. Hillsborough County has 29 locations, three of which are considered “main libraries.” MCPL has 32 locations, none of which are considered a “main” branch. Well, you could say we have 33 locations if you include our Farview Neighborhood Library. I guess you can make it 34 if you count our virtual branch. So, I guess we have a similar number of branches, and we both cover about 1,300 square miles, although over 200 square miles of Hillsborough County is water.
Both libraries have Andrew Carnegie as part of their origin stories. The city of Tampa received a Carnegie grant in 1912 to build their first library. The city of Excelsior Springs, Missouri, received a Carnegie grant 1913. One of the first public libraries founded in Clay County, the Excelsior Springs Carnegie Library merged with Mid-Continent Public Library in 1972.
According to Wikipedia, Hillsborough County has about 600,000 more people than our estimate of the MCPL district population. In 2020, Hillsborough County loaned 2 million books, had 2 million web visits, and loaned 3.5 million eBooks. In the 2019-2020 fiscal year, MCPL loaned 4.7 million items, 3.1 million eBooks and eAudiobooks, and had 2.4 million uses of virtual branch services and online resources. So, when you look at the numbers, we are very similar.
Great libraries always provide great services to people, and it looks like the people of Greater Kansas City and the people of Tampa-Hillsborough County are being served very well! Libraries don’t compete against each other, but if we did, I’d like to think that MCPL is the Kansas City Chiefs of public libraries
Steven V. Potter
MCPL Director and CEO
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