Keywords: Library Usage; Subjective Wellbeing; Benefits Estimation; Health Savings; Public Good; Exchequer Benefits.
This study makes a number of important contributions to our understanding of the value of public services such as the ones provided by local libraries. Libraries are valued for the range of services they provide, and these services contribute to library users' quality of life. We conducted a large online survey with library visitors and non-visitors resident in the United Kingdom. We used multivariate regression analysis to estimate the impact of library usage (having visited a library in the past 12 months) on subjective wellbeing, controlling for the main determinants of SWB. Library use is positively associated with higher life satisfaction, higher happiness/momentary wellbeing, and a higher sense of purpose in life/eudaimonic wellbeing, compared with non-users. We estimate the impact of library services on general health using self-reported health data, and link this to into cost savings to the National Health Service (NHS) in terms of reduced GP visit frequency. Visiting libraries in the past 12 months is positively associated with good general health after controlling for the main determinants of health. We find that being a library user is associated with a reduction in GPrelated medical costs of £1.32 per person per year.