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How do you quantify the value of a public library? Here’s what one report finds

MarketWatch: “Libraries are a bedrock of local life in America. But there has been little study of the quantifiable impacts libraries, and spending on them, have on communities and residents. A recently published working paper addresses that, with some unsurprising findings for everyone who grew up with a love of reading, thanks to the local library. “Our results highlight the importance of public libraries to children, even in an era with widespread access to the internet and smartphones,” write the authors, Gregory Gilpin, Ezra Karger, and Peter Nencka, of Montana State University, the Chicago Fed, and Miami University. Libraries are entrenched in American life, the authors note. Local governments spend over 12 billion dollars annually funding the operation of roughly 9,261 library systems with 15,427 branches. More than 50% of Americans visit public libraries each year and over 2 billion items are checked out annually. In addition, libraries provide instruction on everything from literacy to computer usage, job searching, and tax preparation. “They serve as one of the few non-commercial indoor spaces available to the public,” the authors note, and are particularly important for child development. In 2018, children checked out more than 750 million library items and attended events more than 80 million times…”

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