Building Strong and Vibrant Community

Libraries have value to neighborhoods

People prefer to live near a public library if they have a choice, and often perceive library access as part of an enhanced quality of life, although it is rarely a direct factor in home purchase decision making.

Public libraries support personal productivity and cultural engagement

Directly related to the issue of citizens and their personal productivity is the survey finding that for almost half of patrons, the prime reason for visiting the central library was to look for information on a subject. Interviews with patrons revealed an extremely wide array of reasons as to why information was being sought. While some reasons had to do with paid employment (looking up information directly related to their work), in many cases the information sought related to other areas of life involving serious projects and pursuits that could not be characterized as merely recreational, including projects having to do with theater set design, a photographic exhibition, research for a film, small business development, and writing a screenplay, to name a few. These examples emphasize that the construction of public culture is a complex, ongoing process in which individuals are engaged in often surprising ways. Thus, the research suggests that the search for relevant information and its subsequent use in productive activity may be an integral characteristic of the construction of contemporary public culture in the emergent twenty-first century. If this is true, the central library is then a key site of both cultural consumption and production and a facilitator of civil society in a way that other public places are not (p. 354).

All education groups feel public libraries are important in every community

There appears to be no statistically significant difference between these education groups in their feeling of the importance of having a public library in every community. All groups feel this is important.

Majority feel having a library in every community is important

Ninety-five percent of users and 83% of non-users feel having a library in every community is either somewhat or very importantOverall 80% of non-users and 93% of users felt that public library support should remain the same or be increased.

Building Community Character with the Seattle Central Library

The foot traffic and cultural vitality the Library brings enhances the desirability of Downtown as a residential and commercial market. It serves as a new icon for Seattle and attracts tourists, knowledge workers, and high technology industries to the City. The Library knits together the residential neighborhoods of Belltown and First Hill and retail concentrations in the Downtown shopping district and Pioneer Square. The Library could be an important contributor in repositioning Downtown as a cultural arts district.

Maryland Public Libraries as a desirable community asset

Happily, 42 percent gave public libraries an "A", ranking us at the top of local public services that included police and public safety, parks and recreation, public schools, social service, roads and mass transit, and local government efficiency. Marylanders told us that, next to public green space (parks), they ranked public libraries as the most desired community asset.

Added value to homes and neighborhoods

Homes within ¼ mile of a Library are worth, on average, $9,630 more than homes more than ¼ mile from a Library. For homes between ¼ and ½ mile of a Library, the additional value is $650.Libraries are responsible for $698 million in home values in Philadelphia. That’s an increase in home values that homeowners can borrow against to finance education, home improvements and other types of spending.The additional home values generated by proximity to a Library produce an additional $18.5 million in property taxes to the City and School District each year. Under a scenario of accurate and timely assessments, this is how much property tax revenue could be lost per year if all libraries were closed.

Participating in community life

With the increasing use of the Internet and online media to support political and social activities and provide access to news and current events across the country, access to the Internet becomes an important component of community life. The study found that people use their library’s computers and Internet connection to organize or participate in community groups, volunteer, engage in political and social causes, and keep up with the news and current events.The actions enabled by access to the library computers for many users are perhaps even more important, ranging from finding funding sources or members for community groups to donating to political or social causes. As communities become more distributed and less based on geographic proximity, the library is helping those who might otherwise have no other access to online communities participate in an active way in our society.Overall, 33 percent of users (25.5 million people) used their public library’s computer and Internet resources to learn about social or political issues or to participate in community life. Of these users, 40 percent indicated they had undertaken activities in this area for a relative, friend, colleague, or someone else in the past year. (p. 131)
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