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David Lee King

Save your Community Money … and Announce it!



The photo in this post is from a gas station at a local grocery store. They put up a sign at the gas station showing how much money they saved a community via their fuel points program.

How cool would that be to use one of those library value calculators, add everything up for a year, and share how much money the library has saved the community – in books, videos, and events attended?

For some libraries, this could be a really BIG number!

Why do this? I can think of a few reasons, including:

  • It puts a positive spin on library budget discussions
  • It’s a nice way to share what the library does
  • It changes the conversation from an internal library one (i.e., how many books were checked out) to a community-facing, “why should I care” one
  • It’s a handy way to share the value of a library without having to explain why all those circulation statistics and customer count numbers matter

Has anyone done something like this before? If so, did it work? I’d love to know – please share!

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • MadisonPublicLibrary

    We’re planning a social media campaign using the library use calculator for a September campaign in conjunction with September Is Library Card Signup Month and the opening of our new Central Library. We’ll report back!

  • Brian Herzog

    My library did this in 2011, as part of our year-end usage stats reporting: http://www.swissarmylibrarian.net/2011/11/08/calculating-the-value-of-a-communitys-library-use/ We ended up including some of the numbers in the library section of the town’s Annual Report, but didn’t publicize it much beyond that. I love the idea of in- (and out-of-) library displays to really let people know what impact we have on our patrons in real terms. I’m really curious to hear ideas on other ways to show off this information.

    Slightly related to this is putting the “retail cost” on the bottom of every checkout receipt: http://www.swissarmylibrarian.net/2012/05/08/highlighting-the-value-of-library-use/ – this definitely has gotten patron’s attention and feedback. It would be great if we could automatically total up patrons’ annual use automatically, but we don’t keep checkout histories long enough to make it useful.

  • Emily

    I could see this being potentially useful for public libraries under fire from groups trying to close them. I live in Kentucky. There are currently five counties with ongoing lawsuits trying to knock library budgets back to the 1969 rates. It’s terrible. Something like this might help.

  • Maine State Library

    We’ve added directions on how to customize the library use calculator to our web site http://www.maine.gov/msl/services/customcal.htm A number of libraries in Maine have set it up to better meet the needs of academic libraries.

  • Lori Fisher

    I like the idea of putting this out on our temp sign — the problem is we can’t do it in March (annual town meeting month) due to town ordinance that only allows us to use this type of sign only from April to November due to snow. However, I’m going to put up our current 12 month savings number for August and I’ll let you know the response we receive.

    To Brian’s point about annual savings per patron, we use Apollo by Biblionix, which automatically calculates the annual savings per patron and puts that right on individual check out receipts. That has been a huge hit with many patrons, and an easy, no fuss method for staff to continually show the value residents receive by using the library.

    Lori Fisher, Baker Free Library, Bow (NH)

  • Harrison Library

    We did this in 2011 and 2012. http://www.harrisonpl.org/library-value-calculator.php. Galina Chernykh, Harrison Public Library