How do Americans value public libraries in their communities?

I am often asked, “How do Americans value public libraries in their communities?” A recent comprehensive Pew study answers this question. 90% of Americans 16 and older stated in the study that closing a library would have an impact on their lives, 63% classified it as a major impact. To put this into context, 63% of the Johnson County population equals 346,000 residents. In Johnson county 346,000 residents would feel that closing a library would have a major impact on their lives. When asked what they valued most about a public library the top responses where books, media, quiet safe places and having a librarian help with their questions. 72% of all Americans have either used the library in the last 12 months or live with a family member or child that is an active patron. What is the Return of Investment (ROI) of the public library system to a community? Looking at the ROI only gives you the financial picture of the impact of a public library; let’s look at a couple of recent studies. In 2010, the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library commissioned the University of North Carolina to conduct an ROI study. They found that for every $1 spent had a direct return of between $3.15 and $4.57 in benefits. Direct benefits are library services that can be measured, such as circulation and events. Indirect benefits are uses of the library that are difficult to measure, for example, helping create a literate community, increasing property values and stabilizing neighborhoods. When combining direct and indirect benefits their study showed a ROI of between $4.61 and $6.03 for every $1 spent. Salt Lake County Library also commissioned an independent study by the University of Utah in 2013 and found that for every $1 invested in their library it provided an economic return of between $5.47 and $6.07 in direct and indirect benefits. . While the ROI is of paramount importance to a business and can determine its long term success, it is not a guarantee that a community will be successful. I know from the many businesses that support us through our Foundation and Friends that they understand the importance of community involvement and value the quality of life that Johnson County offers. Johnson County Library remains focused on you. It continues to be my goal to offer you the best materials and services that promote education, community building and convenience.

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