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Letter to the editor: Libraries benefit the whole community

Libraries benefit the whole community

TO THE EDITOR

Libraries benefit community residents of all ages in a variety of ways. At a special informational meeting of the Ellsworth Village Board earlier this month the topic of a new Ellsworth Public Library building was discussed. Ellsworth's library serves nearly 4,000 cardholders, checking out over 70,000 items annually. In the last 10 years, programming offered has increased by 83 percent and program attendance has tripled—these amazing outcomes despite being grossly undersized (there has been no increase in square footage at the library for the last 42 years).

Libraries also serve as the social hub of a community and as an economic driver. Let's look at the library from an economic standpoint:

• Observe our library and you will see it is one of the busiest destinations in Ellsworth. The library makes our downtown look alive and vibrant.

• A percentage of the library's 4,000 cardholders not only visit the library but complete a longer list of errands while in town, spending their dollars at our downtown businesses.

• Libraries can have a positive impact on commercial and residential property values. A business located near the library benefits from "halo" spending. And, just as with quality schools, residents value a quality library when selecting a community to live and raise their families.

Bottom-line: You would be challenged to find a better investment. For every $1 of taxpayer support, Wisconsin's libraries offer a $4+ economic return.

The Ellsworth Area Chamber of Commerce supports the Village Board in the improvement of the library that is so important to our downtown. The community's Design Ellsworth Project and the referendum vote on Nov. 6 showed that community and village residents were in support of a new and larger library and we believe they're right, although maybe for different reasons. Keeping our library downtown and providing a larger and more modern space would not only benefit library patrons but Ellsworth's downtown businesses, as well.

Kim Beebe, Executive Team Member

Ellsworth Area Chamber of Commerce

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