Public Use and Support Skyrocket When New Libraries Are Built

Most library directors and trustees probably believe the “Field of Dreams” dictum: “build it and they will come.” While there is little formal research on this issue, the impact of new facilities on the resources and services of most public libraries is so overwhelming that this assertion is regarded as a truism.

Seven single-outlet libraries built new facilities between 2000 and 2003. They include the Broomfield, Cortez (pictured above), Englewood, and Wellington public libraries and the Estes Valley, San Miguel #1 (Telluride), and West Routt (Hayden) library districts. To measure the change in resources and services associated with the opening of those new buildings, data for selected input and output measures were compiled for each library for the year before and the year after the reported year of completion for their new buildings. (In other words, if a library reported building a new facility in 2001, data for 2000 and 2002 were utilized.) For each library, the percentage change in each measure between the pre-building year and the post-building year was calculated. The resulting figures were compared with the average annual percent change in the same measures for all Colorado public libraries.

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