Libraries Offer Return on Tax Dollars

Return on investment (ROI) studies are one way to demonstrate that libraries are a wise investment. For every dollar spent on a library, much more is returned to the community. In fact, the Library Research Service (LRS) reported that a 2009 meta-analysis of findings from 38 library ROI studies found that, on average, the return value for public libraries is 4 to 5 times the amount invested.

Wyoming libraries that have run the numbers are in that range. The Park County Library found that taxpayers received $4.28 in value for every $1 invested in the library. Natrona County Library returned $5.35 per dollar (p. 2, “Tough times”), while Teton County Library provides a return on investment of $6.21 per each $1 spent.

Two methods are commonly used to determine a library’s ROI: contingent valuation or market valuation. Contingent valuation bases dollar values on subjective perceptions of responding library users. Market valuation bases dollar values on objective values such as the use of electronic resources, material and book circulation, program attendance, reference services, and meeting room use.

We’ve compiled a list of ROI studies and resources for you to learn more. Also know the Wyoming State Library maintains a statistics page, and you can call on us for help taking your numbers and making a case for your library with them. Contact Thomas Ivie, WSL Research & Statistics Librarian, at or (307) 777-6330.

State-Level Studies

Resource and Multiple Studies Lists

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