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Librarian Blog

Well worth it

I recently noted in this space that the return on investment for public libraries is more than $4 for every $1 spent.
That amount was determined in a study published last week by a Texas librarians group.
The ROI of the Wimberley library is significantly higher than that.
Carolyn Manning, library director, recently figured out the ROI for our library last year.
For every $1 spent, the library returned $6.53 in value.
That's a total value of $3.6 million.
And I must say that's conservative. For example, Carolyn figures that every 3D print job we produce has a value of $2. I think that's really low. Most of the objects we print are for fun, just for the heck of it, but there is still an educational value there that cannot be priced. The object itself has a certain value depending on what it is and what it is used for. But $2 seems too little.
I can't argue with other values she's assigned, but just that one variable puts us over the $6.50 mark.
And that's not including the intrinsic value our patrons get from having enjoyed a really good read or a really challenging one that made them think in a different way. Some of those experiences are simply invaluable.

Images aplenty

Last year the New York Public Library put thousands upon thousands of images into the public domain, allowing visitors to the library's website to download them.
When I first read abou this, I was excited because I like to use old images in artwork. But then I was disappointed when I actually went to what I thought as the public domain collection. What I found was a little less than wonderful, much less visually interesting.
I think I was doing it wrong.
Today on Twitter, the library notified its followers of the first anniversary of its freeing of these pictures. So, I poked around again, and this time I think I got it right.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art has just released a thousand images into the public domain, too. I have not had time to check out this collection.
I'll try to get it right the first time.

Another wrong turn

Utah's legislature is about to pass a law that makes libraries in that state block porn in their wi-fi.
At first blush, that sounds like an OK plan.
Not so when you think about it.
First: Parents have the responsibility for teaching their kids about good and bad, what to watch and not to watch, what to read and not to read, what to access and not to access. Let's not facilitate bad parental behavior.
Second: Wi-fi hookups are a dime a dozen. Kids intent on downloading porn can do so just about anywhere. Libraries are an easy target, but the wrong one. Kids in Wimberley don't come to the library to download stuff off the internet.
Third: This does nothing, but gives legislators something to crow about back home.
Fourth: This does start us down a slippery slope. After all, what is porn? A Supreme Court justice famously admitted he couldn't define pornography, but knew it when he saw it. Community standards typically set the bar. Which community? For whose wi-fi?
This country needs to stifle the impulse to censor. That path leads to the imposition of governmental rules and regulations that may not serve any purpose other than the self-aggrandizement of the powerful.

Libraries' value

For every dollar invested in a public library in Texas, communities see a return of $4.64 in "access to resources, programming, services and technology," according to a new report just issued by the Texas Library and Archives Commission.
The Bureau of Business Research at the University of Texas at Austin.
Texas libraries offer more than $1.6 billion in services, including educational programs, internet access, books and digital media and research databases.
They provide jobs for 11,000.
I think everyone agree that's a pretty good return on investiment -- almost $5 for every $1.
Very soon, we'll have a report on the Wimberley library itself. I think the numbers are even more impressive.

Books for the times

A young lady came in last week and checked out our copy of one volume containing two books, "1984" and "Animal Farm."
Perhaps that was coincidental, given the national upsurge in interest in the former.
I don't think so.
No one, to my knowledge, has asked for "It Could Happen Here." Or, "Fahrenheit 451."
We have the latter.
As of today, we have a tattered copy of another dystopian classic, "A Cantlcle for Leibowitz" by Walter Miller Jr. But, not for long. I may take it home and read it again. I don't have to check it out; it was donated.
There are books every library should have. The five I mention here are among them.
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