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Proofs of the Impact of Public Libraries

I still think that we need to internalize the findings of the famous Sept. 2004 Florida study. It is very rich in data and soundbites (bytes?).
It was a comprehensive taxpayer ROI study on the impact of public libraries in Florida found, for example, that:
• Overall, Florida’s public libraries return $6.54 US for every $1.00 invested from all sources.
• For every $6,448 US spent on public libraries from public funding sources in Florida, one job is created.
• For every dollar of public support spent on public libraries in Florida, gross regional product increases by $9.08 US.
• For every dollar of public support spent on public libraries in Florida, income (wages) increases by $12.66 US.
You can find the full study for free.
The South Carolina study showed similar results in 2005. It’s available for free here.
Why is it so hard to quantify the impact of public libraries or is it easy and we just shy aay from these sorts of conversations and proofs? Some people think that we might need to have our associations engage in some traditional advertising. That seems so Darren Stevens and 1960’s Madison Avenue. Promotion seems to have changed in the over thre decades since TV’s Bewitched. Maybe we need to get more creative and try something like a viral marketing campaign. Maybe we can use search engine optimization techniques through the web to bring folks to our message. Could we experiment with a few clickhrough campaigns on the major search engines? Maybe we can use the same influencing techniques that were used in the last few elections to promote specific ideas and policy options. I don’t know the final answer but, as a community, we need to try harder to experiment and to promote the amazing things libraries are doing and get it into the public and political consciousness.

Posted on: July 20, 2005, 9:11 am Category: Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. Alane said

    And have you seen this one? Fabulous report on the economic benefit of the Seattle PL…
    It is very clear that libraries return not just intangible benefits to their communities but CPA-worthy benefits too. My colleague George Needham often says in presentations that the library should be on all the web sites of city/community web sites. “Need more info…?” A no-brainer.