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Library Value Calculator

What is your library worth to you?

We know you value the services and resources provided by your public library, but just how much are those services worth? How much would you pay out-of-pocket if the library didn't exist, or if these services and resources weren't available at no cost?

Take a moment and reflect on your library use over the past month, then plug those numbers into the form below. This page will calculate a total value related to the items you checked out and the services and resources you used. It also calculates a "return on investment" that is based on the per capita library expenditures in your community.

When you've finished, we invite you to share your findings with us by clicking on the "online form" link near the bottom of this page. You also will have the option to share some stories about your library use and why you believe the library is important to you and your family.

To use this form:

  • Enter in the left hand column the number of times per month you or your family use each service.
  • Estimated retail value of each service will be calculated on the right.
  • Total value of your library use is shown at the bottom of the worksheet.
  • Your return on investment for each $1 of taxes paid also will be calculated.
  • Tip: Tab between entries and do not use commas.
  • Note: Madison Public Library is pre-selected; if you use another library in the seven-county South Central Library System (SCLS), you will have to select it.

We'd love to hear what value you have calculated! Please fill out our online form and give us your library name and calculated value.

Where did these numbers come from? -- Per capita expenditures were collected from Wisconsin's Public Library Statistics, compiled by the State Division for Libraries & Technology (DLT). The return on investment is calculated by dividing each library's annual per capita expenditure by 12 (the number of months) to get a monthly per capita expenditure. The formula then divides the total value received each month by the monthly per capita expenditure.

This calculator is an adaptation of projects by the Maine State Library and Library Research Service, a unit of the Colorado State Library and the Colorado Department of Education that is operated in partnership with the Library and Information Science (LIS) Program, Morgridge College of Education, University of Denver.