Libraries’ Economic Value to the Community

Donna Bero, Executive Director, San Francisco Public Library Foundation and Friends

Study was commissiond to enable the Friends and Foundation to “lobby” for the lib against budget cuts. It takes a look at qualitative/quantitative benefits of the library system in the following areas:

  • fostering economic and workforce development,
  • partnering for education and early literacy;
  • creating and strengthening communities;
  • enhancing image and identity for neighborhoods,
  • enriching personal learning and recreation.

The committee included a tech person, a community planner, Jewelle Gomez for her role in arts and culture, the federal reserve bank who did study about creating long-term growth in the area. Conclusion indicated that the library’s role in early childhood literacy is the best stimulus for loosening purse strings.

The library’s value to the community was computed by comparing the market cost of same service with the number of patrons served by SFPL for “free”.  Depending on the service, this “saved” the city $87 million -$200 million/year in each area! The executive summary was distributed as a handout; the (very large) full report is available online.

Q-Biggest difficulty?
A-Justifying funding for the study, working to ensure the study was objective, not a marketing piece. It took longer than expected, but was worth the cost and time it took.


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