SFPL's Branch Library Improvement Program Generates Significant Return on Investment and Benefit to Local Economy

For Immediate Release: Oct. 1, 2015

San Francisco Public Library’s Branch Library Improvement Program Generates Significant Return on Investment and Benefit to Local Economy

San Francisco Controller’s Office Study Reviews Community and Economic Benefit of 14-year Program

For every $1 invested in the San Francisco Branch Library Improvement Program, the city realized a return of between $5.19 and $9.11, according to a new impact study released by the San Francisco Controller’s Office.

The report, Reinvesting and Renewing for the 21st Century: A Community and Economic Benefits Study of San Francisco’s Branch Library Improvement Program, takes both a qualitative and quantitative analysis of the 14-year library project that resulted in the building or renovating of 24 of San Francisco’s 27 neighborhood branch libraries.

In addition to the return on investment figures, the study also found that the capital investments and additional operating spending associated with the Branch Library Improvement Program (BLIP) contributed more than $330 million in indirect and induced benefits to the San Francisco economy.

“While the focus of the Branch Library Improvement Program was to ensure seismic safety and full accessibility for residents, the 24 completed projects have also helped bridge the technology divide, create safe and welcoming spaces for children, teens, and families to build a stronger community, and offer educational opportunities that enable all our residents to gain the skills needed to succeed in the 21st century economy. Our libraries help our residents, our youth, our families and our seniors so they can all share in our City’s prosperity,” said Mayor Ed Lee.

The report was independently prepared by BERK, a strategic planning and business consulting firm, at the direction of San Francisco’s Office of the Controller. The research included the economic benefits analysis, 25 stakeholder interviews and reviews of the literature about BLIP including the two bond measures that funded the program.

The study looked at four specific measures of community benefit. In serving San Francisco in the 21st century, the report found that through BLIP, the city’s neighborhood libraries were able to expand their collections, improve their technology resources, increase community meeting space and expand service via community partnerships and programs.

“By completing the Branch Library Improvement Program in such as systematic and efficient way, we were able to transform neighborhoods and give San Francisco great pride in these true civic anchors,” said City Librarian Luis Herrera.

The study also found that the Branch Library Improvement Program catalyzed neighborhood vitality. Its amplification of investments in branch libraries ultimately served as investments for the entire community: sparking, responding to and advancing community aspirations.

The careful renovations of 16 historic neighborhood branches, as well as the stewardship of environmental resources, including designing eight of the libraries to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold status and two to achieve LEED Silver, was also called out among the study’s Community Benefits.

BLIP also stimulated economic activity by going beyond San Francisco’s minimum requirements for Local Business Enterprises to ensure hiring of neighborhood residents, particularly for the Bayview/Linda Brooks-Burton Branch Library project, and thus contributed to the health of the City’s small, local businesses.

Finally, the report also identified lessons learned from BLIP to inform future capital investments in libraries and other public facilities. Those recommendations included: take a programmatic rather than incremental approach; use partnerships to leverage complementary skills and abilities; reinvent when necessary and build with the future in mind; while investing in facilities, invest in neighborhoods; engage the community to deliver on promises made; learn and reflect both during and after the investment period.

The report is available online at: http://sfpl.org/pdf/about/commission/ReinvestingRenewing.pdf

For a printed copy of the full report, please contact publicaffairs@sfpl.org or (415) 557-4277 Media Contact: Michelle Jeffers (415) 557-4282; (415) 608-1593 michelle.jeffers@sfpl.org
October 2, 2015