A study conducted by the Business, Economic, and Community Outreach Network (BEACON) at Salisbury University, examined the economic and community value of the public library systems on the Eastern Shore of Maryland both from a regional and a county-by-county perspective. Two main components were examined: the economic impact of the actual operation of the library and the economic value of the materials and services provided to library patrons and the community.
Libraries serve as hubs of their communities, providing much more than books and computer access. Not only do they provide a variety of workforce development, business development, literacy, and community culture benefits, they also provide significant economic value to their communities. Wicomico Public Libraries’ value to the county is estimated to be $13.5 million in FY17. With a total operating budget of just under $2.5 million and a 442% return on investment, this means that every dollar invested in the library brings a total value of $5.42 to the citizens of Wicomico County.
Wicomico Public Libraries serves a population of roughly 102,000 through its three branches in Salisbury (downtown and Center Branch), and Pittsville. Annually, the economic impact of the operations of the library totals approximately $3.5 million. This impact includes the direct spending of the library to vendors and employees and the “trickle down” effect as money continues to churn in the economy as a result of that initial spending. Every operating dollar spent results in total local spending of $1.39 and every capital budget dollar spent results in total local spending of $1.49.
“If the libraries ceased to exist, individuals would have to obtain the materials and services elsewhere in the marketplace,” the study states. This savings brings significant value to library patrons who are now able to save that money or spend it elsewhere in the economy. The estimated value of the core goods and services Wicomico Public Libraries provided to patrons in FY17 is approximately $10.0 million. This conservative estimate focuses primarily on only those materials and services that are common among all of the libraries in the region and that are quantifiable.
“Wicomico Public Libraries had over 224,000 visitors last year which demonstrates their value to the community. Our libraries are valuable contributors to the local economy because of jobs we sustain and the operating dollars that go back into the community. I’m proud of the positive impact Wicomico Public Libraries have on our local economy,” said Ashley Teagle, Executive Director of Wicomico Public Libraries.
The study was conducted by the Business, Economic, and Community Outreach Network (BEACON) at Salisbury University. The organization offers business, economic, workforce, and community development consulting and assistance services to a variety of organizations, including businesses, government agencies, and non-profit community-based organizations.