Library Frequently Asked Questions

1. Does the community get a good return on the use of its tax dollars?

Many states, including Florida, confirm the economic value of their public libraries. For every tax dollar received, Florida public libraries give $8.32 in value, making them an excellent investment as well as an important channel for literacy, education and information. Public libraries are worth a lot more than they cost. You can see the full report here and also calculate the value that you receive from the library with the Personal Savings Calculator.

2. Wonít technology make libraries obsolete in the future?

With new technologies for downloading and reading books, coupled with the ease of online research, one may wonder what the future holds for public libraries.

Some relevant observations:

1. If most people could afford to buy their own books, libraries would never have come into existence. But thatís never been the case, and likely it will not be in the future. Even with electronic access, there remains value to sharing resources rather than each citizen purchasing their own materials.

2. In a society where bookstores disappear while the number of books available to read has swelled dramatically, libraries will play an ever more crucial role. Even more than in the past, we will depend on libraries of the future to help discover and curate great books. For publishers, the library will be the showroom of the future.

3. Library use reached record levels during the recession as people sought education and community. Today sixty-eight percent of Americans now have a library card. The sheer power and scope of Internet information services are opening the public's eye to the volume of information available and keeping reference/information services in the library busy, supportive that it's better to be inquisitive than acquisitive.

4. There are still many citizens who do not have Internet access at home. The Library insures that Internet access is available to all. The Library also serves many people who have difficulty finding what they need on the Internet. Library staff guides patrons through both print and electronic resources to find the best information available. As a Beach community library, we serve many residents and visitors who are live here from a few days to six months, and having Internet access is very important to their quality of life during the time they are here.

5. Contrary to popular belief, much information is not available electronically. Less than 3% of the more than 151.8 million items in the Library of Congress has been electronically formatted. Today the digital library community spends some effort on scanning, compression, and OCR; tomorrow it will have to focus almost exclusively on selection, searching, and quality assessment. Input will not matter as much as relevant choice.

6. There are still large groups of people who prefer a paper book. So, for the foreseeable future, there will still be a constant need for paper titles. Amazon.com got started selling books and it is not worried about going out of business because peopleís interest in more information has increased with this easier accessibility. Book publishers are printing more titles, not less, and self-publishing is becoming more common.

7. The demise of the book has been heard many times and is still waiting to happen. When the Internet became more widespread in the 1990s, speculation was that it spelled the death of libraries. The reality is that libraries are in more demand and use than ever. The Internet has become a great informational resource for many people. The expanded library will make more online services available. Studies have shown that Internet use has not produced a reduction in the use of public libraries. There will remain individuals who want to hold and touch a real book, and that will be true for a long time to come.

8. More shelf space is now given to audio books and Playaways. Audio books serve a variety of uses and are convenient, portable and affordable. More popular audio book formats such as CD, MP3 and IPod are available with more formats anticipated. Adding the possibility of using a Kindle or Nook or other device, the need in libraries is anticipated to grow even more.

9. New technology wonít phase out people. Many library leaders across the United States see the library of the future becoming much more of a meeting center for the community. More room will be needed for discussions, computer space, and increasingly classroom space to teach patrons how to use all this new technology.

Changes are happening. The Board of Directors understands there is a challenge in figuring out the future of libraries. But the one thing that hasnít changed in all that time is that the library as a physical building continues to be important. Many users have found that the library is very good at bringing people and information, people and entertainment, people and inspiration together

3. How do Beach Library costs compare to the County Library System?

  Beach Library County Library
2001-02    .3935 .9630
2002-03 .3415 .9630
2003-04 .3415 .9630
2004-05 .3415 .9630
2005-06 .4719 .6055
2006-07 .4719 .4085
2007-08 .4719 .3792
2008-09 .5199 .3792
2009-10 .5989 .2844
2010-11 .5989 .3383
2011-12 .4999 .3541
2012-13
.4999
.3541
2013-14
.4599
.5956

4. What are the boundaries of the library taxing district?

The Library District comprises all of Estero Island, all of San Carlos Island and three community developments on the mainland up to Pine Ridge Blvd.

5. How do the tax dollars I pay to the library compare to those I pay to the Town of Fort Myers Beach, or to the Fire District?

Here are the millage rates over the past:

  Beach
Library
Fire
District
Town of
Fort Myers Beach
2001-02 .3935 3.0000 1.0961
2002-03 .3415 3.0000 1.0400
2003-04 .3415 3.0000 1.0400
2004-05 .3415 3.0000 1.0000
2005-06 .4719 3.0000 0.8500
2006-07 .4719 2.8000 0.6797
2007-08 .4719 2.5400 0.6053
2008-09 .5199 2.5662 0.7093
2009-10 .5989 2.3017 0.8187
2010-11 .5989 2.5800 0.9144
2011-12 .4999 2.5700 0.8144 (+10% electric tax beginning 4/12)
2012-13 .4999 2.5500 0.7687 (+10% electric tax)
2013-14 .4599 2.5137 0.7573 (+10% electric tax)

6. Is the library board elected by the community?

Every position on the library board is an unpaid elected position. Candidates must qualify for a particular seat and follow the strict procedures of the Lee County Supervisor of Elections. The successful candidate is commissioned by the Governor of Florida.

If only one person runs for a given seat on the board, they receive their commission without appearing on the voting ballot, and this is what usually happens. Unlike other independent taxing district boards, Library Board positions are unpaid. Our experience is that people do not want to spend money on a campaign to get themselves elected to a volunteer position.

In the last election in November 2012, three members were elected to the Board with each to serve the next four years.

7. Isn't the library free?

We'd quickly say nothing is free.

The American Library Association's State of America's Libraries Report 2012 extols the importance of library services when it states "Americans are becoming ever more keenly aware the libraries are prime sources for free access to books, magazines, eBooks, DVDs, the internet, and professional assistance."

During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the term "free libraries" differentiated libraries that were fully open to the public from the subscription libraries of the day, which were available exclusively to paying members. The "free library" model is the cornerstone of modern libraries assisting anyone who wishes to use materials or seek an answer to a question.

But libraries, as we know, do not exist for free. They owe their growth to taxpayers, donors or a combination. While we will continue to provide materials and services without exacting immediate payment from users for each transaction, it is also important that the community continue to invest to have library collections, technology, personnel and facilities available to them.

While we don't say libraries are free, we are confident that the cost of libraries is worth every cent.