Public Libraries Return $5.50 in Benefits for Every $1 in Tax Support, Study Says

Jun 12, 2007, 01:00 ET from Pennsylvania Library Association

    HARRISBURG, Pa., June 12 /PRNewswire/ -- Librarians have been saying
 for years that public libraries are a bargain. Now they've got the numbers
 to prove it.
     According to a study conducted by the University of North Carolina's
 School of Information and Library Science, Pennsylvania taxpayers receive a
 return of $5.50 for every $1 they invest in public libraries in
 Pennsylvania. That means a return of $55 for every $10 of local, state and
 federal taxes we invest in supporting our public libraries.
     The Pennsylvania Library Association (PaLA) is collaborating with
 Pennsylvania's Office of Commonwealth Libraries, which commissioned the
 study, to spread the word about the results. This study is part of a
 state-by-state national project.
     If public libraries in Pennsylvania were to disappear, the study
 concluded, the total economic loss to users and local economies would
 amount to approximately $1.34 billion.
     That potential economic loss is approximately 5.5 times the $249
 million that Pennsylvania taxpayers currently dedicate annually to support
 public libraries at all levels.
     "This is a remarkable study that helps us better understand and
 appreciate the magnitude of the role that public libraries play in our
 lives," said Glenn Miller, executive director of PaLA.
     The study said that "if there were no public libraries, citizens and
 organizational users would be faced with a much higher cost in terms of
 both time and money to obtain the needed information from alternative
 sources."
     The potential loss also would include lost wages and salaries of
 library employees and lost revenue sustained by related or nearby
 businesses.
     "We've always regarded our public libraries as valuable community
 resources, but for the first time we are now able to quantify and measure
 their value," Miller said.
     "This study provides conclusive evidence that public libraries
 contribute significant economic impact to our communities," said Gerald L.
 Zahorchak, secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Education, which
 includes the Office of Commonwealth Libraries. "Now everyone will
 understand the importance of our libraries as an economic tool, and it will
 change the way we think about public libraries."
     As of 2006, Pennsylvania had 474 public libraries serving a population
 of nearly 12 million residents, according to the study. Including
 satellites such as branches and bookmobiles, as well, the total number of
 available library outlets to Pennsylvania residents is 630.
     The study revealed that during a year's time, 51.6 percent of adults in
 Pennsylvania visited a public library in person and 13.2 percent used a
 remote connection to visit a public library.
     Overall, Pennsylvania's public libraries recorded 40.8 million
 in-person visits in the year previous to the study -- 48.2 percent by
 adults, 39 percent by school-age children, 8.4 percent by adults who
 brought children and 4.4 percent by tourists.
     Large numbers of library patrons came to get information for
 work-related activities, to research personal or family issues, to study
 and do school work or just to stay current -- not just for recreation and
 entertainment. Overall, the study said, 43 percent of all in-person visits
 were education-related in some way.
     Public libraries also recorded 11.4 million visits by remote connection
 in the year previous to the study. The largest group of remote users, 44
 percent, logged on to get information related to personal or family issues.
     "Pennsylvania libraries are used extensively because the information
 and services they provide are found to be trustworthy, the best source
 available to users and convenient or easy to use," the study said.
     Conducted in 2006, the study encompassed four surveys done in
 conjunction with the Center for Social and Urban Research at the University
 of Pittsburgh.
     The surveys included a statewide telephone survey that amassed 1,128
 interviews; an in-library survey of 2,614 users at 19 libraries and their
 branches; a survey of 226 librarians at universities and colleges,
 businesses and private organizations; and a follow-up survey that went to
 112 public libraries.
     The study also used annual statistics compiled by the Office of
 Commonwealth Libraries and calculations of the economic value of library
 benefits by means of a "statewide economic input-output model."
     The full study, Taxpayer Return-on-Investment (ROI) in Pennsylvania
 Public Libraries, is available at http://www.statelibrary.state.pa.us .
     This project is supported in part by the Institute of Museum and
 Library Services under provisions of the Library Services and Technology
 Act as administered by the Office of Commonwealth Libraries.
 
 

SOURCE Pennsylvania Library Association
    HARRISBURG, Pa., June 12 /PRNewswire/ -- Librarians have been saying
 for years that public libraries are a bargain. Now they've got the numbers
 to prove it.
     According to a study conducted by the University of North Carolina's
 School of Information and Library Science, Pennsylvania taxpayers receive a
 return of $5.50 for every $1 they invest in public libraries in
 Pennsylvania. That means a return of $55 for every $10 of local, state and
 federal taxes we invest in supporting our public libraries.
     The Pennsylvania Library Association (PaLA) is collaborating with
 Pennsylvania's Office of Commonwealth Libraries, which commissioned the
 study, to spread the word about the results. This study is part of a
 state-by-state national project.
     If public libraries in Pennsylvania were to disappear, the study
 concluded, the total economic loss to users and local economies would
 amount to approximately $1.34 billion.
     That potential economic loss is approximately 5.5 times the $249
 million that Pennsylvania taxpayers currently dedicate annually to support
 public libraries at all levels.
     "This is a remarkable study that helps us better understand and
 appreciate the magnitude of the role that public libraries play in our
 lives," said Glenn Miller, executive director of PaLA.
     The study said that "if there were no public libraries, citizens and
 organizational users would be faced with a much higher cost in terms of
 both time and money to obtain the needed information from alternative
 sources."
     The potential loss also would include lost wages and salaries of
 library employees and lost revenue sustained by related or nearby
 businesses.
     "We've always regarded our public libraries as valuable community
 resources, but for the first time we are now able to quantify and measure
 their value," Miller said.
     "This study provides conclusive evidence that public libraries
 contribute significant economic impact to our communities," said Gerald L.
 Zahorchak, secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Education, which
 includes the Office of Commonwealth Libraries. "Now everyone will
 understand the importance of our libraries as an economic tool, and it will
 change the way we think about public libraries."
     As of 2006, Pennsylvania had 474 public libraries serving a population
 of nearly 12 million residents, according to the study. Including
 satellites such as branches and bookmobiles, as well, the total number of
 available library outlets to Pennsylvania residents is 630.
     The study revealed that during a year's time, 51.6 percent of adults in
 Pennsylvania visited a public library in person and 13.2 percent used a
 remote connection to visit a public library.
     Overall, Pennsylvania's public libraries recorded 40.8 million
 in-person visits in the year previous to the study -- 48.2 percent by
 adults, 39 percent by school-age children, 8.4 percent by adults who
 brought children and 4.4 percent by tourists.
     Large numbers of library patrons came to get information for
 work-related activities, to research personal or family issues, to study
 and do school work or just to stay current -- not just for recreation and
 entertainment. Overall, the study said, 43 percent of all in-person visits
 were education-related in some way.
     Public libraries also recorded 11.4 million visits by remote connection
 in the year previous to the study. The largest group of remote users, 44
 percent, logged on to get information related to personal or family issues.
     "Pennsylvania libraries are used extensively because the information
 and services they provide are found to be trustworthy, the best source
 available to users and convenient or easy to use," the study said.
     Conducted in 2006, the study encompassed four surveys done in
 conjunction with the Center for Social and Urban Research at the University
 of Pittsburgh.
     The surveys included a statewide telephone survey that amassed 1,128
 interviews; an in-library survey of 2,614 users at 19 libraries and their
 branches; a survey of 226 librarians at universities and colleges,
 businesses and private organizations; and a follow-up survey that went to
 112 public libraries.
     The study also used annual statistics compiled by the Office of
 Commonwealth Libraries and calculations of the economic value of library
 benefits by means of a "statewide economic input-output model."
     The full study, Taxpayer Return-on-Investment (ROI) in Pennsylvania
 Public Libraries, is available at http://www.statelibrary.state.pa.us .
     This project is supported in part by the Institute of Museum and
 Library Services under provisions of the Library Services and Technology
 Act as administered by the Office of Commonwealth Libraries.
 
 SOURCE Pennsylvania Library Association