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Calculating the Value of a Community’s Library Use

   November 8th, 2011

817 on a calculator spells LIB upside-downThis year while we were compiling all of my library's FY11 statistics to report to the state, it occurred to me to try something new with them.

Since everything we tally up for the state report is how much each library service get used, I thought I'd put all those totals into the Library Use Value Calculator - this then, in theory, will show how much value the entire community gets from using the library (instead of just using the calculator on an individual level).

Here's how things broke down*:

Total
Community
Use
Library Materials & Services Value of
Total Use

$


$

So at retail prices, the entirety of our activity last fiscal year should have cost our patrons a staggering $12,371,068.30 - over twelve million dollars. The library's total budget is about $1.5 million. So, by funding and using the library, our community saves about $10.5 million dollars a year.

I think that pretty clearly spells out the value of public libraries. Hopefully we'll be able to work this into some marketing materials to make the case of why our (meager) budget is important to the community.

 


*A couple notes on the figures:

  • Interlibrary Loan Requests I think includes all of our network transfers within our consortium
  • I was surprised ebooks was so low, but our Overdrive stats show that downloadable audio is still far more popular than ebooks (of course, ebooks are still new to us, so we're still building that collection)
  • The state report has a single line for "Periodicals" - so I put that into the Magazines box in the calculator, and left Newspapers empty
  • The state report groups all "CD" usage, so our audiobooks and music CDs are combined under Audiobooks, and I left CDs empty
  • I left Meeting Room Use (per hour) empty, and am just replying on the attendance numbers - the per hour use is more individual and doesn't really scale out well to the community level
  • I didn't have a total for Database Searches, so the number there is the number of times our databases were accessed (as opposed to searched) - which, again, makes more sense for the community level rather than individual level



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8 Responses to “Calculating the Value of a Community’s Library Use”

  1. Swiss Army Librarian » Calculating the Value of a Community’s Library Use :: Brian Herzog | Public Library Circulation | Scoop.it Says:

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    [...] Swiss Army Librarian » Calculating the Value of a Community's Library Use… Since everything we tally up for the state report is how much each library service get used, I thought I'd put all those totals into the Library Use Value Calculator – this then, in theory, will show how much value the entire … Source: http://www.swissarmylibrarian.net [...]

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  6. philip willems Says:

    Hi Brian,
    Thanks btw for placing my question on your post. Did not give the answer I wanted, but thanks anyway.
    This post is great. What a great way to proof our relevance and in hard currency.

  7. Brian Herzog Says:

    @philip: Thank you – and I am sorry we couldn’t find an answer to your question. If anyone wants to keep trying, it’s the 10/2/11 Reference Question of the Week.

  8. Susan Says:

    Thanks Brian. As a Library Manager who delves into the statistical detail I enjoy seeing another approach to assessing the value of libraries.