Using data to demonstrate economic impact

Thursday morning session at MLA – Dr. Robert Williams shared what he learned as a primary investigator for the South Carolina Public Library Economic Impact Study. The study concluded that for every $1 spent on South Carolina libraries, the rate of return was $4.48. Dr. Williams shared significant results:

Among the findings are indications that the public library:
o Improves overall quality of life: 92% said yes
o Increases local property values: 47% said yes
o Attracts new businesses to the community: 38% said yes
o Attracts patronage to local businesses: 44% said yes
o Enhanced personal fulfillment: 73% said yes
o Nurtures a love of reading: 73% said yes
o Is a source of personal enjoyment: 64% said yes
o Helps manage personal finances or saved money: 32% said yes

Entire online report

Additional observations Dr. Williams made that I found interesting:

  • Thinks an “Educational impact of the library” study would be interesting – has no idea how to do it.
  • South Carolina library directors were not interested in getting any help in further analyzing survey data.
  • Suggests that every time someone tells you a good story about the library, write it down to use it in telling the library story.