Running the Library

Library Inflation Calculator

calculatorWhen you talk about your library budget, it is easy to point out that funding has decreased while prices for library resources are going up.

It can be much more effective, though, to actually compare past and present library budgets using per capita inflation-adjusted dollars. Thanks to an online Library inflation calculator developed by Joyce Chapman, our colleague at the State Library of North Carolina, that is now easy to do!

“The calculator lets the library choose a historic year and input a historic monetary value (state aid, local revenue, any money related to running a library) and then input current day monetary value to compare. Optionally, a library can input their service population for the historic and current time periods. The calculator then provides the inflation-adjusted dollar value of historical data, the percentage change that has occurred during the given time period in inflation-adjusted dollars, and this same percentage change in per capita inflation-adjusted dollars,” says Ms. Chapman.

“The calculator uses the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis’ Table 3.15.4 “Price Indexes for Government Consumption Expenditures and Gross Investment by Function, State and Local, Libraries and Other” data to adjust for inflation. This is a national index, so the calculator can be used by any library — public, academic, etc. — in the country.”

To use the Library inflation calculator, visit


  1. Eleanor Bernau

    As noted, the calculator David posted came from a fellow State Data Coordinator from NC. To complement the calculator, there’s also an upcoming webinar on November 12 (1-2 pm), The Evolution of Usage Statistics presented by Library Journal. Here’s the program abstract and login link (which is also on the Hitchhiker events calendar under the Professional Development tab).

    Program Abstract: The ability to prove library value enables institutions to maximize budget dollars, properly allocate their spend, and improve user satisfaction. We have come a long way in the types and quality of data as well as methods for collecting and analyzing that information. Join our webinar to discuss how metrics have evolved to their current state and what direction we can take with new and alternative metrics in the future. Our panelists will address their methods for measuring library value from the data they choose to evaluate, to the tools they utilize, and how they perform their analysis and utilize it in real practice.

    For more information and to register for this program, visit:

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