Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Chambers College of Business and Economics



Committee Chair

Joshua C. Hall

Committee Co-Chair

Brad R. Humphreys

Committee Member

Brad R. Humphreys

Committee Member

Adam D. Nowak

Committee Member

Peter V. Schaeffer


This dissertation explores empirical issues concerning public libraries in the United States. In particular, it analyzes the direct and indirect effects to and from public libraries, on different issues such as charitable donations, labor market outcomes, institutions and technical efficiency. Chapter 1 discusses the economics of public libraries and its relevance. In addition, it provides an outline of the dissertation and its main contribution to the literature. Chapter 2, analyzes the determinants of donations to public libraries testing the crowding effect from government funding of public libraries. I find suggestive results of a crowd in effect with an inverted U shape in all levels of government. In other words, additional government dollars increase private donations to public libraries at a decreasing rate. Chapter 3 investigates the effect of public library programs and participation on unemployment and labor force participation in Appalachia. Using an instrumental variable approach, I show that neither adult nor children’s programs and participation affect local labor market outcomes. These results are robust across different specifications. Chapter 4 explores the institutional determinants of public library technical efficiency in West Virginia. The analysis is carried out in two steps. First, I document considerable cross-district variation in library efficiency. Then, I estimate the effect of institutional characteristics on the technical efficiency measures. I find consistent evidence that urban libraries are more inefficient than county and multi-jurisdictional libraries. In addition, I find revenue from local sources is associated with reduced efficiency, contrary to what would be predicted by local public goods producer theory. Chapter 5 concludes the dissertation by summarizing its main findings and discussing possible implications.