Introduction Public libraries are not simply local facilities through which residents, regardless of socio-economic and educational background, can access a multitude of books, periodicals, multi-media materials and digital information. They are also important contributors to the economic, workforce, and social wellbeing of their respective communities. Public libraries serve as a community meeting space, contribute to child and adult literacy, provide lifelong learning opportunities, and equip businesses and individuals with services and information necessary for workforce development and economic stability and growth. The benefits provided by the libraries reach far beyond the direct services of the library to include far reaching societal and economic benefits that permeate the entire community. This study examines the economic and community benefits of the Wicomico Public Libraries on the county. The analysis is broken into three components. The first is a traditional economic impact assessment of the operation of the library. The second is a market valuation approach that places an economic value on the services and materials provided by the library. Taken together, the findings from both components are used to estimate the return on investment in the region. Lastly, a qualitative discussion is included regarding some of the additional benefits of the library that are difficult to quantify. Wicomico Public Libraries has three branches located in Salisbury (Downtown and Centre) and Pittsville. The Libraryâ€™s mission is to serve the people of Wicomico County by supporting learning, enriching lives, and building community. Every year, the Library recognizes Luminaries whose actions demonstrate a deep understanding of the transformational power of literacy in the lives of those in the community with the Light of Literacy Award Ceremony. Additionally, the Library sponsors Project READ which is a free, one-on-one adult literacy program that assist adults in becoming fluent in the basic skills associated with Reading, Writing, and Math. The Wicomico Public Libraries includes 4 public branches that serve a total population of nearly 102,000 citizens in approximately 37,000 households. Just under 40% of the population, approximately 40,000 individuals, are cardholders of the library. In FY17, there were nearly 250,000 visits to the libraries.
Economic and Community Impact of the Wicomico Public Libraries
Conducted by BEACON 2018