Crunching The Numbers. Libraries Return Our Investment.

If you use the library you’re seeing the lives it touches and understanding its value to your community.  But how do we describe that value to people who don’t use the library or to those who use it’s digital resources but don’t feel a personal need for the building itself?

Here’s one way to calculate the library’s value: Start by quantifying the dollar value of your own library use.  Input the materials and services you consume at the library into the library value calculator and you may be surprised at the monetary worth you enjoy. April Hichens, a local homeschooler, calculated a savings value of $18,000 in 2009.  

Now, let’s look at the bigger picture. In 2011 The Seattle Public Library offered over 6,400 free programs, hosted over 4,000 community meetings, and, in Central Library alone, provided 485,000 computer sessions. Imagine the value of those services and the lives they enhance. Zoom out even further and consider this…in 2010, America’s public libraries loaned roughly as many movies as Netflix, offered significantly more career assistance than the Department of Labor, and provided free meeting space that saved students, civic groups and businesses 3.2 billion dollars.  The value of direct library services is staggering and libraries generate even greater value by anchoring and enhancing their surrounding communities.

Seattle currently ranks in the top ten cities nationally in education and walkability and is the second most literate city in the nation behind Washington DC.  A strong library system provides foundation for all three of these achievements. According to Seattle Real Estate agent Adrian Willinger libraries drive the walkability of neighborhoods.  Walkability sustains our environment, draws business, and attracts skilled, intelligent people to the city. Libraries also play a critical role in education. In addition to partnerships with our local schools, afterschool support, and ongoing teen programs, Seattle Public Library provided free SAT prep for 228 students, helped more than 25,000 students with homework, and engaged 15,000 students in Summer reading programs in 2011. Libraries definately are an important component of our well-deserved reputation as a literate city. Funding our libraries so they can achieve the level of excellence envisioned when Seattle voted to expand and update the library system could return us to the top place as America’s most literate city, where we placed in 2005, 2006, and 2009.

Seattle Public Library plays an important role in the strength of surrounding business communities as well according to Christie McDanold of Ballard’s Secret Garden Bookshop, “We’re in a city that survives primarily on sales tax and secondarily on B and O tax,” she said. “If retailers don’t see customers then the city doesn’t collect sales tax. If you’re going to rely on tax then you need to ensure that the business core is kept in mind and realize that there are public services, like the library, that impact commerce, well being, and health.” The library also supports Seattle business in many ways from extensive small business and foundation start up resources to wifi access that many young entrepreneurs use.

Crunch the numbers and its clear that The Seattle Public Library quantifiably contributes to vibrant neigborhoods and civic well being.  Please join us in actively supporting The Seattle Public Library. Vote for the library levy on this August 8th!

4 thoughts on “Crunching The Numbers. Libraries Return Our Investment.

  1. I used the calculator and used $4500 worth of library resources, and I think I underestimated the amount of services I use!

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