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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 thelibrary.org/research, 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:

  • Ancestry.com, 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 thelibrary.org/library_roi.cfm 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 kathleeno@thelibrary.org.

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