The Value of Libraries

Hopefully, we all recognize the vital function public libraries serve in our society. Libraries are priceless in the role they play in fostering community, promoting democracy, and equalizing access to information. It is contrary to the very nature of collectivity to itemize and price out library services this way.

Nonetheless, there is one fun way to assign a monetary value to the library: total up the full retail cost of all the items and services you use through the library. While it is hardly a true and accurate measure of what the library provides, it is fun to see how much you would pay to get the same level of access without a library around to provide shared resources.


The New York Library Association has a handy library value calculator. Try it for yourself and post your results to social media with the hashtag #LibrariesTransform.