Libraries Good for the Economy

The Register Guard (Eugene, OR), September 20, 2005 | Go to article overview

Libraries Good for the Economy


Byline: GUEST VIEWPOINT By Connie Bennett For The Register-Guard

If someone asked you to list five ways Eugene Public Library benefits the community, what would you say?

Probably the first things to come to mind would be the materials and services that you and your family use most: the 350,000 books and audio books, the 27,000 videos and DVDs, and the 31,000 audio books and music CDs; dozens of newspapers and more than 800 magazine subscriptions from around the world; state-of-the-art research tools; Internet access; and, of course, professional help to answer your questions.

You might think of the library's role in educating children. Or the knowledge, pleasure and freedom the library offers people of all ages and walks of life. Perhaps you feel, as one patron just told us, that the best thing about the library is that no one asks you why you want to see something.

But did you know that even if your eyes were strictly on the fiscal bottom line, you would still have good reason to support your public library?

It's true. Even when considered purely as a financial investment, public libraries pay off for taxpayers in a big way. Wisely, Eugene residents recognized the role a new downtown library could play in revitalizing the city's core. But there's more.

Recent studies in Florida and South Carolina confirm that public libraries are economic engines pumping major financial benefits into their communities, directly and indirectly. Public libraries generate significant savings for individuals, families, businesses and institutions such as local schools, while also creating a ripple effect by increasing job creation, wages for all residents, the regional gross product and property values.

To identify and measure libraries' financial impact, researchers used economic modeling, interviews and surveys.

Here are some highlights of the State Library and Archives of Florida study:

Public libraries returned $6. …

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