Related Resources

Research Databases Provide Information and Entertainment for a Great Value

Many of the 2 million visitors to the library branches each year come for the print resources, DVDs and CDs. Some of them also drop by or visit remotely 24/7 for the authoritative electronic resources.

These “research databases,” available through, let you read daily newspapers including the Wall Street Journal, financial investment sites, business research, genealogical collections and even librarian-recommended homework help sites for all ages.

The portion of your property tax bill that supports the library district also provides funds for these electronic gems. About $65 of the average Greene County household’s property tax bill goes to support the Library District – also what out-of-county residents pay annually for a library card.

It got us to thinking: What would it cost an individual for an annual subscription to just one of these? Turns out, a lot more than $65 a year you pay to support all the library’s services.

Electronic Resources Librarian Renee Brumett helped provide the cost comparisons for a sampling of databases. The one caveat, she says: Some private subscriptions come with different content – less or more, with full-page images, – than a library subscription, or offer discounts if bundled with other products, but you get the idea.

Here’s what it would cost annually for a personal subscription:

  •, the genealogy research site, $155 for U.S. content, $299 for world content
  • Fold3, robust history and genealogy archives, $79.95
  • Foundation Directory Online Professional, a grant-seeking research tool, $1,295
  • IndieFlix, streaming independent movies and documentaries, $69
  • Kansas City Star, $109.45
  • St. Louis Post-Dispatch, $299.88 (e-edition only)
  • New York Times Historical, $455 with limit of 100 articles per month or $3.95 per article.
  • Morningstar, investment research, $195
  • Mango Languages, $79 per language
  • Signing Savvy, interactive sign-language learning, $49.95
  • ValueLine, stocks, mutual funds, special situation stocks, etc., $598
  • Wall Street Journal, $275.88
  • ReferenceUSA, business data on sales, competitors, employment, etc., for U.S. businesses, $850. Adding prints and downloads would cost $500 for 5,000 records. ReferenceUSA told Brumett: “Your library patrons have printed/downloaded 324,339 records over the last year, a value of $32,400 in data.”

Here’s another fun return-on-investment exercise: the Library Use Value Calculator at shows how much you would pay out of pocket for library services and the value of your tax dollar.

Kathleen O'Dell is community relations director for the Springfield-Greene County Library District. She can be reached at

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