Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Calculating Your Library Investment

We noticed a new feature on the Carol Stream Public Library web site that helps residents to assess the value of the services that they receive from the library each month. It is called a Library Use Value Calculator and it is a simple tool to help illustrate how much a family might be obligated to spend out-of-pocket for the materials and assistance they depend on throughout the year that are available at the local public library. As we examine the key issues that face us in the upcoming referendum, we can gain some important information with the use of this specal calculator.

The project was initiated by professionals at the Massachusetts Library Association and the spreadsheet that they developed was then modified as a web-based module by staff members at the Chelmsford Public Library in Massachusetts. Average monetary values for items such as books, magazines, videos, computer access time, and professional services have been built into the calculator so that when library patrons type in the number of materials that members of their family use in a typical month, they are able to see the dollar value of those resources and services.

To illustrate, we have entered some rather modest numbers in the example below and yet the estimated value of materials and services totals $152 per month. Many of our patrons regularly borrow more items every month than the numbers used in our example:

Residents who frequently check out more materials, make regular use of the free high-speed Internet access in the library, order books through inter-library loan, or enroll members of their families in the many special programs realize even greater value each month. Click here to try out the calculator on the Carol Stream Library web site.

Investing in a Library: The fact is, it is often easy to take the services and materials offered by a public library for granted and many residents may not realize that the cost of maintaining a modern, well-equipped library is not just a line item on their annual tax bill—it is an investment in the quality of life for members of their families, in the value of their homes, and in the community as a whole. In Carol Stream, the library tax rate has not gone up in over 21 years and our residents pay one of the lowest library rates in the suburban area. As we have pointed out in other messages on this site, the referendum on April 17 to build a new library will add an additional 30 cents a day to the average tax bill for village households or about $10 a month. Try out the “Library Use Value Calculator” and we think you will agree that the library proposal is a wise investment for the future of Carol Stream.

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