Vancouver Island Library system providing ‘great value’

A recently-released report measured direct and indirect benefits and calculated a market value

Every dollar spent on your local library provides a 335 per cent return on investment, according to a recent report.

A report released by the Vancouver Island Regional Library (VIRL) in July highlights the system’s value to local residents, based on 2015 data.

“It’s one of the few places, if not the only, where you can go for free, or with no individual user cost, and just sit and there’s no pressure to buy anything,” said Mary Beil, Parksville city councillor and VIRL board member.

“There’s all the obvious reasons and community resources for information and entertainment,” she said, “but there’s also a great buzz of social connectedness.”

She also added that like many other regular library users she’s also still a frequent shopper at the Mulberry Bush bookstore and used book shops.

The report measured the direct and indirect benefits of the services provided to communities and calculated the market value.

They took into account the value of access to the system’s various collections, including hard copies of books and online music and video services, along with the value of the physical space and services like research expertise and what those services would cost if purchased elsewhere.

Parksville Director of Finance Lucky Butterworth said the people and businesses of Parksville will pay a total of $601,000 toward the VIRL in 2016. The city requisitions the property taxes on behalf of the library and passes it directly to the VIRL. He points out that Parksville actually gets some of it back in rent as owners of the building.

Butterworth said the library requisition has been going up pretty steadily, mostly due to efforts to invest in infrastructure through a capital replacement reserve fund.

“I think this report confirms what people like me who use the library a lot already know, that the library provides great value,” Beil said, pointing to the spin-off value of the employment as important secondary considerations after things like improving literacy and access to technology and online services that a lot of people take for granted.

“There’s great value in being able to access those services,” Beil summed up.

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