Economic engines

Libraries achieve a more than 4 - to - 1 return for public funds.
Without the library, there would definitely be an economic impact, where people would not be able to find jobs, they would not be able to get their certifications and professional development that they need. If you imagine a world without a library that would be a gap that a lot of people in San Marcos would be struck by.

Libraries produce much more than better informed readers. According to a recent study by the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC), the state’s public libraries provided more than $2.6 billion in economic benefits in terms of services just two years ago.

The report, Texas Public Libraries: Economic Benefits and Return on Investment was conducted by the University of Texas at Austin’s Bureau of Business Research IC2. They used a data-intensive process to document and quantify economic benefits of state libraries. Researchers used a conservative approach and valued public libraries purely as business and organizational entities using extensive databases from TSLAC in conjunction with input-out economic modeling software.

According to the study, for every one dollar spent, libraries offered $4.64 worth of services, resources, and economic opportunities in the communities they operate. Services like early childhood literacy programs, computer literacy programs, language classes, hobby-oriented programs and business courses reduce opportunity costs within the community and help bridge the gap in educational quality for marginalized sections of the population..

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

Computer terminals with internet access are also significant economic resource provided by Texas public libraries. San Marcos Public Service Librarian Deborah Carter said patrons use the internet for a wide variety of purposes that range from education to employment to basic needs.

“In San Marcos, not everyone has access to internet and to be able to get online and find out news like Amazon is moving into the community or find out other kinds of news that impact the family or the job outlook or  printing job notices and resumes is important,” Carter said. “Without the library, there would definitely be an economic impact, where people would not be able to find jobs, they would not be able to get their certifications and professional development that they need. If you imagine a world without a library that would be a gap that a lot of people in San Marcos would be struck by.”

In calendar year 2014, there were 16,876,575 sessions on internet-accessible computer terminals in public libraries in Texas. Services like circulation items available through checkout are also an important resource for the community. The San Marcos Public Library has over 45,000 registered cardholders and checked out 473,568 items last year, according to Library Director Diane Insley.

According to Carter, the San Marcos Public Library fosters programs that have a direct impact on the economic landscape of San Marcos.

“Things like early childhood education have a direct impact on our economy,” Carter said. “Programs like reading and early literacy affect graduation rates. The benefits are lifelong and that impacts the economy of every person that comes to the library from a young age. We have GED classes,  and a lot of jobs require a GED as a direct link to get a better job. We have English as a second language which also has a direct correlation with helping to get a job or get a raise in the job that they have.”

The library also features financial resources for San Marcos residents. In the upcoming months, there will be several finance seminars that cover money management, building capitol and improving credit. IRS tax documents are also available at the library during tax season. 

Spending by public libraries in FY2015 totaled $566.0 million. $504.0 million went to operating expenditures and $62.0 million went to capital expenditures. The study concludes the services offered by libraries have an overall economic benefit of $2.629 billion.

To view the full report go to https://www.tsl.texas.gov/roi. The San Marcos Public Library will be on the ballot for a city bond election on May 7, to expand and remodel the existing library building

San Marcos Daily Record

(512) 392-2458
P.O. Box 1109, San Marcos, TX 78666