I just wrote a long-ish post on “the value of your library,” most of which applies whether you’re an Arlington, MA resident/library user or not. The main point of the post is that public libraries, even if you only visit yours two or three times a year, are a pretty amazing deal. Arlington, for example, spends $44.57 per capita on its public library.
If you live in Massachusetts and are interested in the per capita spending for your local library, check out this report (PDF) from the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC), which has that data for every one of Massachusetts’ 350 towns. Average per capita spending is $37.15 (or 1.30% of the municipal budget); the medians are slightly lower.
Can you think of a better deal for forty bucks? I can’t. Check out ilovelibraries.org’s Library Value Calculator to see what the library is worth to you.