Director Ryan Johnson in Library News and Notes

For homeowners in St. Clair County, it is property tax season. Exciting, right?

As painful as taxes might feel, they fuel some key features of our community such as our schools, our roads, and of course, our library. About 92% of the library’s total operating budget comes from local property taxes.

The tax bill you received in the mail recently breaks down how all these funds are allocated.

As Library Director, I’m proud to say our tax rate went down (even if slightly) from 0.1643 last year to 0.1640 this year.

In the spirit of full transparency, my household’s tax contribution to the library this year is $63.27. That is just 2.1% of our total tax bill, or 2 cents out of every dollar. Now I know I’m a biased, but what a deal!

My family of three easily gets $60 of value a month, let alone a year, just in children’s books for our one-year-old. I encourage you to take a look at your bill and see how much you are contributing to the library.

Thank you, by the way, for that contribution. I hope you feel like you are getting excellent value for those tax dollars spent.

We have a handy tool on our website to help estimate that value for you. Visit ofpl.info/about and click on Discover Your Savings. That tool asks you to estimate the number of books you checked out, events at-tended, music downloaded, and the like.

I think you’ll be surprised by the amount of money you save by using the library instead of purchasing those materials directly, not to mention the services and other resources we offer. When we aggregate that data for our entire user group, we find that the average library user saves over $400 per year.

I bet many of your saved quite a bit more than that.

There are some other great facts on that ofpl.info/about page, such as “People in the U.S. visit their librar-ies more than 1.3 billion times annually. More people use libraries than go to MLB, NFL, NHL, NBA, NASCAR, or the movies COMBINED.” Shocking, right?

Facts, stats, and dollar signs aside, we know that a library is more than just a building and more than just the books found inside. There’s this great quote by professor R. David Lankes that goes, “Bad libraries build collections. Good libraries build services. Great libraries build communities.” We aspire to that ideal of building community in everything we do.

If you have someone in your life who isn’t yet a library user, invite them with you the next time you stop in. Help us continue to build, grow, and strengthen our community. The return on investment is well worth it.

This article was originally published in the O’Fallon Weekly.

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