Chapter Two: Building the Library Builds the Economy

A community’s economic growth is tied to its educational capacity, and a skilled and productive workforce is essential for a vibrant economy. The library provides both initial and continuing education for the area’s workforce.

Early Literacy and Education

After parents and grandparents, libraries are among the first sources for children to establish lifelong reading habits. Early childhood literacy not only changes an individual’s life, it saves society an estimated $260,000 in lost earnings, taxes, and productivity for each person who finishes high school.

“Early Warning! Why Reading by the End of Third Grade Matters” by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Digital literacy is now as fundamental to society and our libraries as reading literacy and makes the library relevant today and into the future. It’s also a point of social justice, with Internet access and literacy being essential to success in today’s society.

Brenda Brant, Case Statement Committee Member

Return on Investment

The economic return on investment (ROI) of public libraries is estimated at $4.06 per dollar of taxpayer support. The ROI is the commercial value of goods and professional services purchased by people en route to the library.

“The Economic Contribution of Wisconsin Public Libraries to the Economy of Wisconsin” by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.

Good Financial Sense

The American Library Association (ALA) hosts a library value calculator which helps you determine how much money you save (or could save) by being a regular library user. By its calculations, an adult who borrows one book, one audiobook, two movies, and two music CDs a month will save $874.80 per year. A parent who borrows 12 picture books and four kid’s DVDs a month will save $2,160 per year. Given that those numbers present a real barrier for many people in Eau Claire, the chance to share resources with others is a game-changing opportunity, especially for those on tighter budgets.

How valuable is your library to you?