The Relationship between Community Religious Beliefs and Community Level of Public Library Development in the United States: An Empirical Analysis05/20/2011
This paper examines the relationship between the characteristics of the religious community in an area served by a public library in the United States and the level of development of that public library. Specifically, it tests the hypothesis that as the degree of religious orthodoxy increases in a community the level of public library development in that community decreases. To test this hypothesis, two indexes are constructed: (1) the index of “religious orthodoxy,” and (2) the public library development index. Data for the index of religious orthodoxy comes from a 2000 study by the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies. The public library development index is based on 1974 and 2008 data collected by the U.S. federal government on all public libraries. Both data sets cover the entire U.S. The findings from this 2011 study are compared to the findings from a 1978 study by Williams (1978) that used similar measures. Tentative results from both studies indicate that while there is a definite negative relationship between the index of public library development in the most orthodox communities that relationship is not uniform for all levels of community orthodoxy and that changes do take place over time.