If you think going to the library is all about checking out books these days, think again.
A report issued last fall – but lost in the COVID-19 pandemic – highlights the economic impact of the Central Arkansas Library System (CALS), a $1 billion economic driver to the region over the past decade. Those numbers are based on employment, operational spending, capital investments, and retail sales in an impact evaluation and analysis authored by Boyette Strategic Advisors from 2010-2019.
The Central Arkansas Library System (CALS) was formed in 1975 when the Little Rock Public Library’s Board of Trustees and the Trustees of the Pulaski-Perry Regional Library agreed to merge. Since that time, the system has grown into a network of 13 branch libraries, in addition to the Main Library in downtown Little Rock. CALS serves a population of more than 400,000.
According to the report’s 10-year analysis, the total economic impact on the Little Rock metropolitan statistical area is $1,001,756,309. That includes payroll of more than $305 million and state and local taxes of nearly $31 million.
Other key findings include:
· Tax revenues received by CALS during the period totaled approximately $139 million.
· 2.25 million people attended programs sponsored by CALS.
· 1.3 million attended meetings hosted at CALS facilities.
· Almost 106,000 hours of volunteer hours were donated to CALS.
· More than $6 million were received by CALS in donations, grants, and in-kind contributions.
· More than 25 million items were loaned to the public, such as books and DVDs.
One of the more recent endeavors of the library system centers around feeding school-age children. During the 2014-2019 time period, CALS helped provide more than 240,000 meals to children in need after school, during school breaks and on weekends.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic caused schools to close in March 2020, an additional 130,000 meals were distributed during that time, although it is not captured in this report.
You can access the full report at this link.