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New research shows value of Queensland public libraries

New research commissioned by the State Library of Queensland (SLQ) has found that every $100 invested in Queensland public libraries by state and local governments during 2010-2011 delivered $230 of value to local communities.

The study, titled The Library Dividend: a study of the socio-economic value of Queensland public libraries, was funded by the Expanding Horizons Public Library Grant as a state-wide research project. The study was commissioned by SLQ in 2011 and is now available from the library’s website.

The study found that the ‘library dividend’, or dollar-value of each dollar invested by state and local governments during the period, equalled 2.3 across the whole state. This means that the $207 million invested by state and local governments in the public library network delivered approximately $476 million in value to Queensland communities. The research said, however, that a dividend of 2.3 was ‘a sound and conservative estimate of annual benefit’, and the actual benefit of investment in public libraries during the period could be as high as 4.1, or $849 million.

The research also calculated dividends for library services in regional areas. In Brisbane, state and local government investment for the period equalled $49.6 million and the library dividend was calculated to equal an average of 2.8, meaning total value to the community equalled $138.8 million. In Mount Isa, government investment equalled $700,000 but the average library dividend was much higher at 4.4, meaning the total value to the community equalled $3.08 million. Figures for other Queensland regions can be seen here.

The research also considered other economic benefits of investment in public libraries and found that during 2010-2011, Queensland public libraries provided 3135 full-time jobs, $614 million in income, and $295 million in gross state product for Queensland.

The study was based on a number of different research tools, including a survey of 5000 library users and 1100 non-library users who were asked to estimate the value of library services. Library users said that they would spend an average of $394 a year if they purchased all their library services from a private business, while they valued the time, cost and effort incurred in getting to the library and spending time there at an average of $1.24 per trip. Library users said they would be willing to pay an average of $52 a year to keep receiving their library services, while non-library users said they were willing to pay an average of $32 a year to make sure their communities still had access to a library.

The research comes at a time when the Australian Library and Information Association has concerns about cuts to government libraries in Queensland. While the recent state budget papers did not outline any planned cuts to the state’s public library network and the SLQ budget was increased, the closure of three government libraries has been confirmed.



Category: Library news