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OSAP Question

Page history last edited by Kim Miller 6 years ago





Cecilie Maynor (TN)




We have a county with an OSAP question and I am not sure what their best solution might be. The county has four libraries and the board is looking into using  three different methods to decide the OSAP for each library. For one library they are using the population (it has just become incorporated), for two of the other libraries that are not  incorporated the board has chosen to use zip code as an indicator for  their OSAP. The fourth and biggest library gets the remainder of the population in the county. I talked with my predecessor about using zip codes (yearly estimates) which is not a common method to decide OSAP in TN and she recommended using Census Tract to find a set percentage for a more fair solution.


I was wondering if any of you had similar experiences or any thoughts on the topic.


Will be grateful for any feedback!



SDC Comments


Scott Dermont (IA)


Help my poor brain on a Monday morning – what is an OSAP?  



Terry Blauvelt (MO)


It’s Official Service Area Population, which I think is the same as the Library Service Area. I had to ask as well.



Michael Golrick (LA)


OK…I am a day late and a dollar short here. Who knew that last Monday was going to be my “hump day” last week? We had three “sneaux” days followed by my usual day off.


I have one parish (county) which does not have a parish-wide library system, and their population is determined by the census areas covered (a couple are specifically municipally funded).


My experience as a public library director in Wisconsin (*waves* Hi, Jamie) was that the staff in our circulation department literally took plat books to determine if the user was in the city or a specific township. Because we had township borders, with population counts, it was fairly clear. We were very careful because money was involved (a unique county funding formula, written and enshrined in documents, for that specific institution).


I would humbly suggest that they try to develop a simple and consistent way of determining population, oh, and write it down! (Document, document, document.) There is nothing that will drive a new director/staff member to distraction fast than “Oh, so-and-so used to do that, and no one else knows how s/he did it!”



Frank Nelson (ID)


Is OSAP the same thing as LSA?  Legal Service Area Population?  If so, Michael’s humble suggestion scrapes off the scab I get on my nose every year about this time trying to find that simple and consistent way. 


It was forever burned into by brain by one of our esteemed Census colleagues that “Census is no respecter of political boundaries.”  Sadly, this is so for anything that is not on the following list:




School District


What I mean is, unless a library jurisdiction follows exactly the boundary lines of one of the above taxing district boundaries or can be determined by adding and subtracting populations of one or more said jurisdictions, you are going to have perennial problems with your population estimates. Zip codes and Tracts don’t cut it.  Actually, School District only really works at the decennial.  You can do it at the block level, almost, but you really don’t want to go there.


Now for my holy grail:  If we could get libraries to have their own shapefile or shapefile-like codes integrated into the Census database and then featured for layer selection via current Census/GIS technologies, we’d have it, by Jove!



Jamie McCanless (WI)


Because Michael alluded to how we originally established the distribution of Wisconsin state aid to our regional library systems, I thought a quick(ish) note would be wise. The amount of state aid each WI regional system receives is a simple calculation of the percentage change in total state aid from the previous year, but the original amounts were based on 1999 populations. The method for making those calculations is part of our Wisconsin Administrative Code. I have thick files of that data bequeathed to me by my predecessor for safekeeping. If the boundaries of our systems changed, I’d have to go back to those 1999 figures to recalculate (shudder). The 1999 data is also our basis for calculating interlibrary borrowing reimbursement.


So as Michael suggests, maintain very meticulous and consistent records. Keep a printed file copy. Do the whole thing only once, if you can, or to coincide with the release of decennial census data.



Cecilie Maynor (TN)


Thank you all! Your feedback is invaluable and it gives me a much better understanding of the task at hand.


I apologize for not being clearer about OSAP (Official Service Population). Now I know we all call it differently (newbie-still ignorant).


Most of our counties with multiple libraries use a formula that follows one of methods listed in our Minimum Standards. We use county estimates, incorporated places estimates, and the Census tracts. We are not using Administrative Code as far as I know, but I will look into that, Stacey. For the county in question it wants to use zip codes for two of the libraries and then population for an incorporated place for the third library. The library statistics for the three libraries  are more or less the same. However, the incorporated library ends up only getting 0.7% while the two other libraries get 16% and 6%  . This method  skews  the numbers and ends up being unfair to the tiny town who has made an effort to become incorporated. It is also going to be a headache to deal with it every year. I am hoping that, as you suggest,  we can find a straightforward formula that is well documented so that we can move forward. We have a meeting with the regional director this afternoon. I am keeping my fingers crossed.


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