Cities and towns across Connecticut spend a wide range of taxpayer money to support local libraries, from Greenwich’s nearly $9 million to Norfolk’s $1,000.
Despite Norfolk’s small investment, it leads the state in visits per resident, according to 2012 data compiled by the Connecticut State Library. Official data for 2013 will be available on the State Library website later this month.
On average, Norfolk’s residents visit the library nearly twice a month.
(Learn more about libraries across the state here.)
Greenwich does have an engaging library with residents visiting 15 times a year on average. Since it contributes a lot more than Norfolk, Greenwich pays about $9 per visit while Norfolk pays a few pennies.
Based on taxpayer cost per visit, the most expensive libraries are Hebron ($17.57), Middlefield ($16.40), Woodbridge ($16.02), Bridgeport ($14.78) and East Hartford ($13.86).
After Greenwich, Hartford appropriates the most taxpayer money to its libraries, $7.9 million, followed by Stamford ($7 million) and Bridgeport ($6.7 million).
Fairfield, Westport, Norwalk, New Haven, Darien and West Hartford spend between $3 and $4.5 million on their libraries.
Another 10 towns spend between $2 and $3 million: Manchester, New Britain, Stratford, Middletown, Wallingford, Wilton, Newington, Waterbury, Farmington and Meriden.
Taxpayers fund all of their library operating costs plus other some additional expenses – in other words more than 100 percent of the library’s operating costs – in 19 towns. Salem’s library is funded at 150 percent of operating costs, followed by Bridgeport, Mansfield, Goshen, Glastonbury, Andover, Avon and Bethlehem. The other 11 towns fund their libraries between 100 and 102 percent.
Norfolk funds the smallest percentage of library operating costs, less than 1 percent. Torrington funds about 4 percent.
Wealthier towns tend to spend more on their libraries on a per capita basis. Westport spends the most, $157 per resident, followed closely by Darien, $153. Greenwich and Wilton spend $10 and $20 less per resident, respectively.
New Canaan, Farmington, Woodbridge, Avon, Easton and Newington spend between $75 and $95 per resident.
Another 11 towns spend more than $60 but less than $75 per person: Fairfield, Bloomfield, Madison, Waterford, Hartford, Durham, Old Saybrook, Wethersfield, Woodbury, Roxbury and Middlefield.
Four Connecticut towns don’t have their own libraries, Barkhamsted, Bozrah, Colebrook, and Lisbon. Instead they contract with other towns. According to the State Library, Barkhamsted and Colebrook contract with Winsted, Bozrah contracts with Salem and Lisbon with Griswold.