Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Cowboys Do More Than Just Look Good in Chaps

The Economist has an article that proves cowboys are smart and good looking – if, like me, you think anybody who reads is smart and good looking.
BURNS is a tiny town in southern Wyoming surrounded by wheat fields and ranches….This town of just 300 people has a public library containing 11,500 books.
And Burns is not the only town in Wyoming where there are readers.
The average Wyoming resident checked out nine books in 2005-06, compared with an average of five in California and two in Washington, DC.
(Considering the shape of politics today, I’m not terribly surprised by the D.C. figures.)

The library in Cheyenne, Wyoming, has a third of a million volumes, meeting rooms, computer labs, book clubs for home-schooled children and teenagers, and a bookmobile.

In Laramie County, the librarians found out what the people wanted. And the people gave them the money - $27m in additional sales taxes. I like the Wyoming mind-set.

We usually go to Wyoming once a year, but missed our summer trip this time. I always check out the cowboys at Don King Days in Sheridan – and those guys must read a lot! Next time we go, I’m gonna visit the local library. Wonder if I can walk to it from The Mint Bar?


  1. It would also be interesting to know what they are reading. Do you suppose people in rural communities use the library more than people in urban areas...simply because there is less to do?

  2. You are amazing, Helen. I don't know where you come up with these great stats.

    By the way, I don't know any cowboys, but I do love country music!

    Morgan Mandel

  3. I used to hate country-western music, back when I was a kid and it was all my mother would allow on the car radio.

    But lately I've started listening ot c-w. It's nice to hear songs that you can actually understand all the words and all of them are singable in mixed company.

  4. LJ -- The article in The Economist said this:
    "The collection is skewed towards local interests. There is a lot of Christian fiction, as well as volumes on truck repair. Books on tape and CD are popular—not surprising in an area where people routinely drive great distances. The branch library in Burns has plenty of agricultural books, including one called “Small-Scale Pig-Raising”. But the libraries’ collections are not altogether predictable. Burns’s library also possesses five novels by Margaret Atwood, a Canadian feminist writer."

  5. Interesting article, Helen. I am not surprised that the small town in Wyoming has a lot of books. We are not quite that small here in Winnsboro, but we do have an amazing library for a town of about 3,500. One reason I think these small towns have thriving libraries is the fact that most don't have a bookstore and most don't have alternative forms of entertainment, movies, skate parks, etc.

    I do know some cowboys and I also love country music. :-)

  6. What an encouraging set of statistics that is! And a total myth buster too. I would like to know whether some books are banned or not...

  7. The article didn't mention anything about "banned" books, but did say the collection was slanted toward local interests and called the area "conservative."

  8. A very interesting post with perplexing stats - good research, Helen, and thanks for sharing - I gotta think some about this.


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