Reasons for libraries: Value for money

Ratio of return on investment noted

  • Contribution of Australian Public Libraries – Video quotes research showing 31,000 jobs are traceable to libraries.
  • Two-thirds of all books read in the UK are library booksTim Coates in his post of 24/9/11 analysed lending and purchasing data: 230m books bought in UK each year but 50% of these are gifts and not read.  310m books borrowed from libraries each year, almost all of which are read. “Most reading is done either by retired people or people who are out of work- and by chlidren. Those figures are clear in almost every library management system and in the DCMS ‘taking part’ survey.”

Libraries “… are very different than bookstores because they provide enormous low cost access to reading. Two-thirds of reading is books that come from public libraries, while one-third of reading material comes from bookstores. Therefore, libraries are not just a player in the game, they are the player. People who don’t see that are not conscious of how important libraries are. There’s a gulf between the libraries and publishers and it’s coming from 150 years of tradition.” Tim Coates.


“Despite their funding peril, public libraries remain one of the most popular government services and historically have fared pretty well at the ballot box. In 2009, voters passed 84 percent of library funding referendums nationwide and 54 percent of library construction measures, according to the Library Journal.”

In general, these studies show an ROI of two to six times the level of public investment in the library.
See also the American Library Association page on return on investment at and a whole book on the subject:
  • Give Us a Dollar and We’ll Give You Back Four – Lulu. “Your public library is in competition with a lot of other agencies–city, county, district, even state–for money. You want your library to sustain its current services and expand them in the future. You know you get a lot of bang for your buck, but how do you show that to the people who hold the purse strings? One way is to use the data in Give Us a Dollar and We’ll Give You Back Four. Walt Crawford has compiled, analyzed, and organized library funding and service data from all around the United States. Give Us a Dollar will let you compare your services to those of other similar libraries at a glance and will help give you the data you need to show your funders how much you already stretch their dollars–and how much more you could provide with even a few dollars more.”
  • #1 written by geraldine cook
    about 11 years ago

    Most of the the puerile reasons(excuses) given by Brent Council for closing 50% of the borough’s libraries against the will of over 85 % of the residents- are dealth with here. Excellent.

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