A Wise Investment: Public Libraries



Teton County Return on Investment graphic

By Thomas Ivie
Wyoming State Library Research and Statistics Librarian

We all know that libraries are extremely valuable to our communities. But do all of our constituents? Many libraries are using a traditional business measurement, return on investment (ROI), to demonstrate the worth of public libraries in terms of dollars-and-cents.

ROI can be an integral part of the process for evaluating a library’s services, collections, and staffing levels, planning for new services and resources, and measuring how valuable your library is to your community and stakeholders. For example, in Wyoming, Teton County Library calculated that their residents get $4.20 back in library collections, services, programs and facility use for every tax dollar invested by Teton County.

The Colorado State Library has calculators and other ROI resources that makes it easy for your library to demonstrate your value to the community. The Wyoming Library Association also has a personal ROI calculator that estimates the value of a patron’s library use. You might also find useful information in this recent article on ROI in Public Libraries Online of interest.

Have questions about ROI resources or other library statistics? Contact me at thomas.ivie@wyo.gov or (307) 777-6330.

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