I had a few spare minutes today so I went trolling through some of the stuff I had saved in Google Reader for future reference and found this post on libraries and local economies by Kate on the Loose Cannon Librarian blog.
The post references a great article from Time Magazine about how buying local benefits local communities, and articulates better than I did why it is in libraries' self-interest to promote strong local economies -
"Libraries are non-profit organizations that are committed to building a strong community- and while supporting a thriving local economy hasn’t necessarily been a main goal of ours- why shouldn’t it be? If the local economy supports the tax base that in turn funds us, why shouldn’t supporting local business be a main goal of the public library?"
Unlike many libraries, PVLD actually doesn't receive any funding that is directly sales or business-tax related (apart from the 1% of our budget that comes from the State our tax funding comes entirely from local property taxes), but the principle is the same. A healthy local economy is part of what makes a community attractive and vibrant, and that in turn drives property values and our property tax revenue higher.
In her post Kate proposes that libraries take the lead in forming Local First or similar organizations in their communities. I'm not sure that is the best solution in every community (in our case it is the Chamber of Commerce that is leading our Local First efforts, with the library as an active supporter), but there are plenty of other things that libraries can do to support and promote local businesses and, as I noted in my earlier post, support the quality of life that also contributes to a healthy local economy.
I loved Kate's conclusion, though -
It’s time that we took a step beyond the community bulletin board and began being the true heart of the community- the one that pumps the blood throughout and ensures a long and prosperous life for those we serve.