BULLET Placing a Value on Public Library Services
Glen E. Holt, Donald Elliott, and Amonia Moore

1Holt, Glen E.; Elliott, Donald; and Dussold, Christopher (1996). A framework for evaluating public investment in urban libraries. Bottom Line, 9:4, (Summer), pp. 4-13. This article contains a substantial body of footnotes supporting the rationale for this study and the use of cost benefit analysis as a methodology. The authors did not repeat those footnotes here. The bibliogrpahy that accompanies this article does contain many of the references cited in that article.
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2 Developmental Strategies, Inc. (1988). The economic impact of museums and performing arts institutions. Prepared for the Museums and Performing Arts Institutions Committee [of RCGA] and the St. Louis Regional Commerce and Growth Association. (September); Developmental Strategies, Inc. (1994). The community and economic impact of museums, performing arts and other cultural institutions on the St. Louis Metropolitan Area. Second in a series prepared for the Museums and Performing Arts Institutions Committee and the St. Louis Regional Commerce and Growth Association. (July); Taylor, Stephen G. (1996). Economic impact of cultural institutions on the St. Louis region, 1994/95. RCGA (St. Louis Regional Commerce and Growth Association). (March 11).
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3 The sense of direct and societal benefits is articulated both implicitly and explicitly on the Gates Library Foundation home page, and on the homepage of its linked Technology Resource Institute.
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4 Karoly, Lynn A., et al (1998). Investing in our children: What we know and don't know about the costs and benefits of early childhood interventions. (Santa Monica, CA: Rand).
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5 Greenwood, Peter, et al (1996). Diverting children from a life of crime: Measuring costs and benefits. (Santa Monica, CA: Rand).
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6 Holt, Glen E. (1997). As parents and teachers see it: The community values of a public library. Bottom Line, 10:1 (1997), pp. 32-35.
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7 The average price for a juvenile trade paperback volume was $7.73; for a fiction trade paperback, $13.56 (Bowker Annual, 40 ed.,Table C, p. 517. These figures were rounded to the nearest dollar for simplicity in administering the interviews. Wherever possible, a rental price was used for the market substitute for the library service. Subsequent to the completion of the study, a local retail establishment began to offer rental audio books.
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8 SLPL defines an “active” cardholder as a person who has used his/her card within the last 12 months. Any card without utilization is dropped automatically from the base after one year. When an “inactive” cardholder makes a card-based transaction, the computer automatically adds the name to the “active” category. The use of this conservative, automated approach creates a “clean” user database, a significant policy issue because of SLPL’s continual efforts to upgrade cardholder services and benefits.
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9 Report on Cost Benefit Analysis Research Grant from the Public Library Association to Dr. Glen Holt Presented to the PLA Board, Saturday, June 28, 1997. Note: these figures were estimates made prior to weighting for non-response bias and other initial corrections. Corrected figures for general user benefits were $157.5 million for consumer surplus, $135.6 million for WTA, $15.2 million for WTP, and $90.1 million for cost of time.

10 There is an additional fact that furnishes an important context for understanding the responses to both willingness to accept and willingness to pay. That fact concerns who really pays St. Louis property taxes and how much they pay. Householders, in fact, pay only one-third of the city's property taxes. Fully two thirds of them are paid by taxes derived from business property. And, unlike householders, business owners can vote only if they are residents of the City of St. Louis. In other words, in St. Louis, for every dollar that St. Louis householders pay in property taxes on their homes, they gain $2 in property taxes from business properties. Complicating WTA and WTP further is the issue of if survey respondents have any notion of what they really pay in taxes for library services. The "average" St. Louis household (based on the average household property value used in residential tax assessment) pays about $52 in library property taxes annually. But the large number of city residents who rent their housing units and presumably never see any library property tax bill adds another complication to the estimation process. More survey experience in different library systems with different tax bases should provide the research team with information to interpret WTA and WTP methodologies in a library context.

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