Library offers $4 in services for each $1 collected

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While most people think of Christmas in July, we think of New Year’s in July.  Our financial year is over the last day of June. 

This gives us July and August to report and reflect on how well we served the community.  2010-2011 was one of our biggest years to date. 

We circulated over 132,000 items last year, including books, music CDs, DVDs, audiobooks, eBooks, magazines and other miscellaneous items.  Our county population is slightly over 10,800 people, so for every citizen in the county, 12 items were checked out. Circulation only dipped below 10,000 items once last year. 

Program attendance has grown over the year, as well. More than 10,000 people attended our programs and about 87,000 people walked through our doors. We currently have registered 9,377 card holders, which is 86 percent of the population.

We also examine how well we used tax dollars.  In these tough economic times, we are extremely mindful how valuable each and every dollar is to the tax payers.

Our library is generously funded by the citizens of Carroll County.  Eighty-four percent of our budget comes from tax dollars. As a result, we are extremely conscientious how that money is spent and the value we give the citizens of Carroll County. 

Libraries like to generate a document called “return on investment.”  Really this is just a fancy way to demonstrate the value of service the library gives for each dollar collected. 

This is calculated by taking the average costs for all of the services provided and comparing that with the amount of tax monies collected. 

Last year, we gave the citizens of Carroll County more than $4 in service for every one dollar collected. 

I think this is a really great return on investment, but I am always challenged to do better. 

We are continually evaluating our collection to make sure we are providing the best items possible. 

We are growing into the digital age by providing downloadable eBooks and audio books. 

In the future we hope to add free, legal music downloads. We have analyzed successful programs and continue to grow from that.

 It is my hope that this time next year, I can tell you we have given you more than $4 in service for every dollar collected.

I know that I am always asking the citizens of Carroll County to come and visit the library. But I think seeing everything we have to offer first hand it is the best way to understand what exactly happens when you pay taxes and see the library’s line item.

I understand that tax is a very contentious word, but please know that it is not something that we take lightly at the Carroll County Public Library.


Hillary Arney is director of Carroll County Public Library.