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Minnesotans Strongly Value Libraries, Says State Fair “Bean Counter” Straw Poll

Library advocates could point to a wide variety of statistics and metrics to show that Minnesotans use, appreciate and support their local library. But few are as fun or illustrative as a novel straw poll conducted this year at the Minnesota State Fair by Cities Matter (an ongoing project of the League of Minnesota Cities). 


During the weeks of the Fair, at its booth in the Education Building, Cities Matter asked passersby to make tough decisions about spending priorities - just like city officials do every day. Each person was given a “budget” of six beans (representing his or her tax dollars) and the opportunity to “spend” those beans in any proportions they chose toward eight different city services.

Library services was one of the eight, alongside (in alphabetical order) clean water, fire, parks and recreation, police, senior services, streets, and sewage/garbage.

How did Minnesota libraries stack up, figuratively and literally? As in years past, the support was overwhelming - 5,480 beans, all told! Libraries were prioritized second overall, behind only police services. Here is the detailed breakdown:

  • Clean Water: 6,186
  • Libraries: 5,480
  • Police: 5,184
  • Fire: 4,768
  • Parks & Rec: 4,473
  • Streets & Sidewalks: 4,438
  • Senior Services: 4,159
  • Sewers & Garbage: 4,065

To see photos of the Cities Matter fair booth, visit them on Facebook. For more information on the organization, click here.