You pay plenty of taxes, and you want them to be used wisely, right?

I bet you can't guess which public organizations return the most benefits from your tax dollars.

Give up? It's your libraries!

Even if you dislike math and cringe at phrases such as 'return on investment,' here's a fact you'll be able to appreciate: Libraries in our state deliver more than $10 in benefits for every $1 dollar they get from tax money.

Isn't that amazing?

Statisticians would say libraries "have an ROI of more than 1,000 percent," but all you need to understand is that we spend your money more carefully than libraries just about anywhere else in the world.

"I've looked at ROI studies from numerous states, and Florida's libraries have recorded the highest statewide numbers I've seen," says Kathy Dempsey, founder of Libraries Are Essential marketing consultancy. “While librarians have long been excellent stewards of public monies, Floridian librarians rank among the best anywhere. You can see results from other states at https://www.lrs.org/data-tools/public-libraries/return-on-investment/recent-studies."

Dempsey added, "Even an in-depth research report from Queensland, Australia, does not report an ROI higher than Florida's.” (See www.slq.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0018/226143/the-library-dividend-summary-report.pdf for that report).

The Florida study's Dempsey quotes have a local connection since it was conducted by the Haas Center for Business Research and Economic Development at the University of West Florida. 

To anyone who may question its currency, Florida’s State Librarian Amy L. Johnson in Tallahassee explains, “Florida’s most recent Return on Investment was released in the fall of 2014. The study was based on FY2013 public library system annual statistical report data. Florida has completed three ROI studies using the same methodology. The studies are lengthy to complete based on the data analysis and the various surveys. Additional time is needed for designing collateral material to communicate the results.”

Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner wrote in a Tallahassee Democrat guest column, “Public libraries have historically been places where families can learn, students can do research and job seekers can find opportunities, and the money invested into these respected institutions is returned over ten-fold.

“Florida public libraries provide education, business support and social service referrals. Nine out of 10 people surveyed believe libraries improve workforce skills. These localized services bring value to the residents of Florida by acting as a hub of information, which library patrons believe helps improve Florida’s workforce by teaching new skills.

“Librarians serve their patrons, and in turn strengthen the economy of their surrounding communities.  . . .  Florida’s 555 public libraries benefit their communities both educationally and economically, and they must continue to stand as beacons of light to the areas they serve.”

Florida public libraries receive 90 percent of funding from local sources, linking the services with the communities they serve. The old saying of “nothing surer than death and taxes” could be updated to “nothing surer than Florida libraries deliver more ‘bang for your tax dollar buck’”!

Sandra Dreaden is the Crestview Public Library's reference librarian.