Friends of the Libraries: Libraries provide bang for your buck

Some years ago, I was talking to a city official about the need to expand our library space in Costa Mesa. I was told that libraries didn’t produce money, so it was hard to get the public to invest in a bond issue. I wish I had known then what I have since learned: that libraries do bring a strong return on investment to the community.

For instance, a 2013 study of the economic benefits of Florida public libraries judged that the return on investment for each $1 spent on those libraries was $10.18. The study was funded by the federal Institute of Museum and Libraries Services and administered by the state of Florida’s Division of Library and Information Services.

The study evaluated the value users place on public libraries, taxpayers’ return on investment and the economic impact of libraries in their communities. Telephone and Internet surveys were used to question patrons about their use of specific library services. The findings were similar to those of other library surveys — state-based as well as locally based.

A 2012 study by the University of Texas at Austin showed a $4.42 return on investment. A 2005 study by the University of South Carolina showed a return of $4.48 for each dollar expended. A January 2008 San Francisco Public Library study showed a $3.34 return for each dollar spent. They show that a strong percentage of patrons use the library for traditional services like checking out (paper) books, but they also utilize Internet databases to check out e-books.


Some use the library’s Internet access for several types of recreation, including games, watching movies or listening to music. But a significant portion of users reported using library computers for personal needs, like filling out job applications or searching for medical information.

You might find it interesting to look at some of these studies and, using their statistics, determine from your library use how much you would have to pay for those services. That is only one way money is “returned” to the community, but it is significant.


Holiday library closing schedule


Our three Costa Mesa branches of the Orange County Public Library will be closing early (at 5 p.m.) on Dec. 24 and 31. The libraries will be closed Dec. 25 and Jan. 1.


At the Mesa Verde Library

On Monday, Dec. 22 and 29, take your family to play with Legos, Duplos and family board games from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. This activity is for kids of all ages, and no sign-up is necessary — just inquire at the Children’s Information Desk.

Toddler Storytime will resume on Monday, Jan. 26 at 11 a.m. If you have questions, call the library (714) 546-5274.


At the Costa Mesa Donald Dungan Library

Children and their families are welcome to visit one of the Duplo tables in the library between the hours of 2 and 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 23 and 30. This is an opportunity to use your collective family imagination to build a unique creation.


Toddler Storytime is scheduled for 11 a.m. on Dec. 22 and 29. For more information, call the library at (949) 646-8845.

Children and their families are invited to read to licensed therapy dogs on Dec. 27 between 11 a.m. and noon. No registration required.

For movie buffs, join others like you for the Film Club selections to be shown before the end of the year. On Dec. 23, watch and discuss “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II.” Then on Dec. 30, the James Bond movie “Skyfall” with Daniel Craig, Judi Dench and Javier Bardem will be shown. Both start at 6:30 p.m. and end by library closing time at 9 p.m.

The Book Club is on the first Monday of the month at 6:30 p.m. For those who like to plan ahead, the January selection is “What It Is Like to Go to War” by Karl Marlantes, who was in the Vietnam War. Veterans are invited to attend and share their stories. February’s selection is the novel “Everything I Never Told You” by Celeste Ng.

MARY ELLEN GODDARD produced this column on behalf of the Friends of Costa Mesa Libraries, the Costa Mesa Library Foundation and the three Costa Mesa branches of the OC Public Libraries.