2009-07-08 / Community

Libraries are good taxpayer investment

A few years ago, the Indiana State Library commissioned the Indiana Business Research Center (IBRC) at Indiana University's Kelley School of Business to conduct a study to measure the economic benefits of Indiana's public libraries.

In contrast to most other studies that have attempted to measure the economic impact of public libraries, this study also focused on the role that public libraries play in supporting business and economic development in their communities. This study was designed to help Indiana libraries identify and quantify their benefits in a systematic and objective manner. For more information on the methodology used in this library valuation, see the full report, "The Economic Impact of Libraries in Indiana," available for download at http://www.ibrc.indiana.edu/s tudies/EconomicImpactOfLibraries_ 2007.pdf.

Library Value Calculator

The key findings of that IBRC study, completed and published in November 2007, indicate that libraries are a good value. The direct economic benefits that communities receive from libraries are significantly greater than the cost to operate the libraries. And now public libraries have a tool available to them to check their economic value in their own communities each year. The Library Value Calculator was developed by the IBRC as a result of the economic benefit study to help local public libraries produce their own benefit-cost analysis, using locally gathered statistics.

The calculator lists items and services provided by the library and their estimated value, based on what the items or services would cost a person, on average, if the library were not providing it. The calculator can be expanded or refined based upon the available data on the use of particular library services and thus enables libraries to include any specialized services they offer.

Local libraries' 'value'

What does this mean for you? The Library Value Calculator, customized for the Delphi Public Library and its community goods and services, indicates that in 2008, the return on investment for every $1 of tax money spent on the library was $2.25 in value. This is a 125% return on investment.

The Flora Monroe-Town- ship Public Library customized the calculator for its goods and services and found that in 2008, the return on investment for every $1 spent was a whopping $3.99 in value - a 299% return on investment.

Charts for both libraries, listing library services, number of service events per year, value per event, total value, expenditures, and resulting 2008 return on investment, are available at the libraries.

The calculator confirms that these public libraries in Carroll County provide an excellent value for the tax dollar. This process does not even take into account any of the intrinsic value or worth people may have enjoyed because of a healthy public library in the community; it merely attaches a value to those transactions that can be counted, such as items circulated, programs attended, and hours of public computers used. Considering the personal enjoyment that many community members receive from the items they check out of their library or the programs they attend, the value of the public library increases even more.

Studies show that in times of economic hardship, libraries are busier than ever. As the nation continues to experience a sharp and jarring economic downturn, local libraries are providing valuable free tools and resources to help people of all ages through this time of uncertainty.

At the Delphi and Flora public libraries, you can search for jobs online, fill out a job application, file for unemployment, enroll your children in summer reading programs, send email to your friends and families, or just sit and relax and read a newspaper or magazine in a comfortable, inviting place open to all in the community.

Library Value Calculator 2008 - Delphi

Library Service Number of Service    
  Events per Year Value per Event Total Value
Adult Circulation, Excluding Renewals      
Books 28554 $15.00 $428,310
Video media 18602 $4.00 $74,408
Audio media 2894 $10.00 $28,940
Periodicals 2321 $3.00 $6,963
Electronic downloads 11,076 $3.00 $33,228
Children's Circulation, Excluding Renewals      
Books 30627 $10.00 $306,270
Video media 10832 $4.00 $43,328
Audio media 1033 $10.00 $10,330
Periodicals 644 $2.00 $1,288
Dial-a-story calls 511 $10.00 $5,110
Electronic downloads 218 $3.00 $654
Additional Resources and Services      
Hours of patron computer use 35764 $10.00 $357,640
Hours of WIFI computer use 1294 $10.00 $12,940
Reference librarian requests 8696 $10.00 $86,960
Newspaper and magazines read 6250 $3.00 $18,750
Meeting room use for nonlibrary events 95 $250.00 $23,750
Reference materials used 2457 $20.00 $49,140
Interlibrary loan materials borrowed 488 $25.00 $12,200
Outreach deliveries provided 192 $5.00 $960
Tax forms provided 4975 $0.20 $995
Home-schooling materials borrowed 100 $15.00 $1,500
Programs Sponsored by Library      
Adults in attendance 2995 $10.00 $29,950
Children in attendance 4758 $6.00 $28,548
Total Value of Library Services     $1,562,162

Operating Expenditures, 2008 $694,663

Return on Investment, 2008 $2.25 value received for each $1 spent

Note: The values used for the Value per Event calculation are estimates and averages. For example, the $15.00 for Books borrowed for adults is an estimated average discount cost of hardcover and paperbacks.

Library Value Calculator 2008 - Flora

Library Service Number of Service    
  Events per Year Value per Event Total Value
Adult Circulation, Excluding Renewals      
Books 21667 $15.00 $325,005
Video media 4249 $4.00 $16,996
Audio media 255 $10.00 $2,550
Periodicals 2969 $3.00 $8,907
Electronic Downloads 103 $3.00 $309
Children's Circulation, Excluding Renewals      
Books 9806 $10.00 $98,060
Video media 444 $4.00 $1,776
Audio media 184 $10.00 $1,840
Periodicals 12 $2.00 $24
Dial-A-Story calls 3497 $10.00 $34,970
Additional Resources and Services      
Hours of Patron Computer Use 11864 $10.00 $118,640
Reference Librarian Requests 4160 $10.00 $41,600
Newspaper and Magazines read 631 $3.00 $1,893
ILL Items Borrowed 174 $25.00 $4,350
ILL Items Sent 202 $25.00 $5,050
Tax Forms Provided 750 $0.20 $150
Meeting Room Use for non-library purposes 72 $150.00 $10,800
Programs Sponsored by Library      
Adults in attendance 1611 $10.00 $16,110
Children in attendance 1714 $6.00 $10,284
Total Value of Library Services     $699,314

2008 Operating Expenditures $161,358
2008 LCPF Expenditures $13,782
Total $175,140

2008 return on investment $3.99 per $1.00 spent, 299% return on investment  

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