Read On! Save Money. Use Your Library.

Sometimes when I’m between (or avoiding) projects, I run random reports on our library software. We library workers really like to be able to get into the nitty gritty of library usage, so our library software, Apollo, has a whole host of reports we can run.

The report I ran today while I was waiting for an online meeting to start is called “Materials Amount Saved.” This report looks at how much money our patrons have saved broken down by each type of material checked out.

I know from other reports that our patrons have saved $2,410,000 since August, 2017. Had our patrons purchased the materials they checked out, they would have spent over $2 million. Instead, we were able to either save that $2 million or spend that money on things that are slightly less important than having materials to read, listen to, and watch. Things like groceries, clothing, housing, etc.

What I learned from the new report I ran today is that patrons saved over $1 million on print for grown-ups (which breaks down to roughly $230,000 on non-fiction; $640,000 on fiction; and $177,000 on large print materials). Patrons saved $400,000 on DVDs, blu-rays, and audiobooks for grown-ups. Checking out kids’ materials instead of buying them saved patrons $600,000 on print and $83,000 on movies and audiobooks. Checking out teen/young adult books saved patrons over $176,000.

When I look at each of those four years individually, the total saved is different, of course, but the breakdown of what people checked out and where they saved money is similar.

One thing to note about these numbers: they don’t reflect the full range of services available at the library. If we added in our free computer use, wifi, research assistance, and digital materials, the total savings for our community would be much, much higher.