After spending some time in grad school immersed in library ROI (return-on-investment) research, I decided to start a little personal tabulation. Just how much does the library save me in a year? Since I moved in February, I began comparing my library borrowing record with Amazon prices, and kept a running total. In less than a calendar year, I've borrowed over $500 worth of library materials, the vast majority of them still books. Considering that I only borrow 1-2 items at a time, with only the very occasional movie, I was surprised that my total rose so high. Just goes to show how remarkable a library's savings can accumulate. People sometimes complain about their local taxes going to this or that service or infrastructure, but considering the tiny fraction of each individual's taxes that local libraries receive, their return on investment is really quite amazing. Not to mention the really low barrier to entry. Most public library cards can be obtained with a driver's license or state ID-sometimes without an address even. What other institution is just waiting to give you free stuff basically just for proving that you exist? That in itself never ceases to be an object of wonder for me.
How did you do? How much money did your local library save you this year?