THE NUMBERS are impressive.
140,865 books, 8,621 electronic materials, 10,358 audio materials and 5,326 videos on DVD.
Those are some of the items in the collection at the Quincy Public Library, representing a significant investment over decades by the residents of Quincy.
Generations of families have helped expand the library through hours of volunteering, donations and yes, taxpayer dollars. Generations more have come to count on the library not just for its books, but puppet shows, Teen Advisory Board opportunities, Wii Wednesdays, computer access, genealogy records, home delivery service, movies and much, much more.
Here is another number: $13.1 million. That's the economic value the Illinois-based American Library Association says the Quincy Public Library represents to the city of Quincy.
That number is based on an online calculator the association offers that assigns a monetary value to the various services or materials, such as young adult books, audio books, literacy programs, public computer usage and meeting room space that a library provides to its patrons. Some believe that number to actually be higher, and we tend to agree.
The Quincy Public Library is so much more than simply an impressive collection of books, documents and other media. The library represents knowledge, opportunities and a connection to other members of the community that simply cannot be replaced.
No community has ever thrived when opportunities for learning were taken away. Quincy would be no exception should the library be forced to pare back its services.
Libraries are an invaluable tool for workplace development as well, offering means for workers to educate themselves, upgrade skill sets and adjust to new realities in an ever-changing economy.
Improving literacy and other so-called soft skills -- oral and written communication, professionalism and critical thinking, among others -- sets workers up to succeed while learning valuable trade skills. These smart, skilled workers are in high demand right now, as nearly any local manufacturer can attest.
Finally, for many people, the library's home delivery is one of their few connections to the outside world. Cutting them off would be deplorable for a community that time and time again throughout its history has risen to help those in need.
The Quincy Public Library is doing all of this on a $2.356 million budget this fiscal year. That is a return on investment of more than 451 percent. There are few expenditures that so greatly benefit a community. Imagine what an even marginal increase in resources for the library could mean for the city's future.
As the City Council prepares to enter budget planning for FY 2019/2020, we encourage council members to be make wise choices for the community and remember that the library is not simply an expense; it is an investment in success.