Library Calculator

"Without libraries, Pennsylvania library users would have to pay $964 million more to get the same information plus $84 million in costs from not being able to find alternative sources of information. Libraries also contribute to the state economy through $68 million in annual in-state purchases and $180 million in annual wages paid to library employees." - source: page 7 (PDF, 44 pages, 798KB)

Value Calculator
My Yearly Benefit:
  • Libraries provide a valuable community resource.

    To find out how much value you receive from your library, complete the following survey... you may be surprised!

  • How often do you visit the library?

    • weekly
    • bi-weekly
    • monthly
  • How many of each item/service do you typically use?

Adult Books Borrowed $17.00 $0
YA Books Borrowed $12.00 $0
Childrens Books Borrowed $17.00 $0
Audiobooks Borrowed $9.95 $0
Interlibrary Loan Requests $25.00 $0
eBooks Downloaded $15.00 $0
Music CD $13.95 $0
Magazines Read $5.00 $0
eMagazine Downloaded $5.00 $0
Newspapers Read $9.50 $0
Movies Borrowed $4.00 $0
CDs Borrowed $9.95 $0
Video Games Borrowed $29.95 $0
Music Downloaded $1.00 $0
Meeting Room Use (per hour) $25.00 $0
Adult Program Attended $15.00 $0
Young Adult Program Attended $12.00 $0
Childrens Program Attended $7.00 $0
Museum Passes Borrowed $20.00 $0
Computer Use (per hour) $12.00 $0
WiFi Connection (per two hours) $9.95 $0
Database Searches $19.95 $0
Reference Assistance $7.00 $0

The values in the calculator were determined by the estimated cost of obtaining each of the items without the use of the library.

Hardcover Books
Purchase cost of a new hardcover book
Softcover Books
Purchase cost of a new softcover book
Rental cost of a DVD
Music CD
Purchase cost of a music CD
Purchase cost of an CD audiobook
Ebook Download
Purchase cost of an ebook
Audiobook Download
Purchase cost of an audiobook
Computer Use
Cost of hourly computer usage at a business center
Cost of outside classes
Museum Pass
Cost of two adult ($11.95) and one child ($7.95) admission tickets to a museum
Purchase cost of a magazine or 1 week of a newspaper subscription

Job Creation

source: pg. 28 (PDF, 44 pages, 798KB)

Spending on construction and similar activities such as retrofits has a large “multiplier effect” meaning that the dollars invested multiply throughout the entire economy because of the supplies, materials, and labor needed for these projects. One national study found that investing in school buildings, which serve as a close proxy for libraries, generates 19.3 jobs for every $1 million invested. Building retrofits were found to generate 17.4 jobs for every $1 million invested. By comparison, investments in coal and oil yield only 6.9 and 5.2 jobs per $1 million investment, respectively.

Additional Economic Benefits

Libraries have a significant economic value that is often overlooked. Without libraries, citizens and organizations would have to spend more time and money to locate needed information. One study calculated how much it would cost library users if every public library in Pennsylvania were to shut their doors. It found that it would cost users $964 million more to get the same information from an alternative source.

The value of libraries can also be measured by the money saved from gaining knowledge to complete projects and activities that otherwise would have required hiring outside help. Libraries have volumes of material that help users save time and money on a variety of things such as making household repairs. Researchers have found that if libraries as a source of this information are taken away, users will not be able to find alternative sources for all of these needs. The economic value of this loss in Pennsylvania would be $84 million.68 Communities also benefit when library staff spends their wages and salaries locally. Each year public library employees earn $180 million. Libraries themselves also spend money. In-state library purchases inject $68 million annually into Pennsylvania’s economy.


Very special thanks to Luke T. Charde, who created this calculator to be used on the Troy Public Library website. It was inspired by a spreadsheet, created by the Massachusetts Library Association and the javascript adaptation and improvements by the Chelmsford Public Library and the Maine State Library. Updated 2-2016

Page Updated: 

September 13, 2018

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