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Study Shows $2.628 Billion in Economic Benefits from Texas Public Libraries

2017 February 6

The Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) has released a study showing that Texas public libraries provide $2.628 billion in economic benefits to the state. Collectively, in FY2015, Texas public libraries were found to offer a sizeable return on investment. For every one dollar spent, libraries offered $4.64 worth of services, resources, and economic opportunity to communities.

“The study quantifies what most Texans understand. Our public libraries bring tremendous value,” said TSLAC Director and Librarian Mark Smith. “Libraries function as key engines of economic vitality in their communities.”

Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin’s Bureau of Business Research IC2 used a data-intensive process to document and quantify economic benefits. The findings showed that libraries produced $976 million in direct economic activity and more than 11,000 jobs in FY 2015 were dependent on public library expenditures.

Another major component of the study analyzed key services offered by most public libraries in the state. Researchers found that libraries contributed an additional $1.652 billion worth of services, including educational programming, internet and computer access, electronic databases, circulation of materials, reference services, in-library use of books, volunteer opportunities, and wireless access.

“From children using the library to access computers after school to people using the library to find jobs and build skills, the public can access resources, technology, and training opportunities that public libraries make available through effective and cost-efficient service,” added Smith. “Texans benefit both by accessing these services and by the impact of educational growth in their own lives.”

The study used a conservative approach and valued public libraries purely as business and organizational entities. Researchers used extensive databases from the Texas State Library and Archives Commission in conjunction with input-out economic modeling software. The research found that, while Texas public libraries cost $566 million in FY 15, those libraries provided a return on investment of $4.64 for each of those dollars spent.

Smith noted, “At a time when taxpayers want accountability as well as support for education and economic growth, libraries deliver both.”

The full report can be viewed at tsl.texas.gov/roi

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