This article has been edited to include comment from the library director.
The paper is 100 percent recycled, two-ply, and printed with soy-based ink. Venues that use the paper receive it for free, making it a potentially attractive way for cash-strapped libraries to reduce spending. (Advertisers pay $99 for 20,000 advertisements that appear on approximately 160 rolls.)
Although plugging the library’s number of annual visitors–180,183– into Kimberly-Clark’s professional use calculator yields more than 36,000 cases, or about $70,000 in savings, per year, the truth is not nearly so dramatic. Library Director Robin Lettieri told LJ that the library spends about $1000 to purchase about 1300 rolls a year. “We don’t have all this money now,” said Lettieri. “It would be great if we did, but we don’t.”
The move comes a few months after budget constraints forced the library to cut hours and eliminate two part-time positions, according to the Port Chester Daily Voice (though some hours were restored when Port Chester offered the library an additional $23,000 in funding).
The supplier, Star Toilet Paper, was founded by brothers Bryan and Jordan Silverman in 2010. Bryan, a Duke University sophomore, is one of five finalists in Entrepreneur Magazine’s College Entrepreneur of 2012 competition. (Jordan is not eligible since he graduated from the University of Michigan–Ann Arbor in the spring). Bryan did not immediately respond to LJ’s request for comment.
Besides costs savings, Lettieri says her motive was to support local residents with a unique idea. She’s been pleased with her working relationship with Star so far. “We have final say on the advertisers; for instance, we wouldn’t want a bar advertised in the children’s room,” she explained. Star has already “passed some of the advertisers by” Lettieri for approval.
Advertisements in libraries have been somewhat controversial in the past. The Gwinnett County Library Board recently voted against placing advertising on bookmarks, according to INFOdocket. However, the Toronto Public Library decided to go ahead with selling ads on the back of due date slips.
Lettieri was surprised to see articles on her toilet paper selection, of all things, spread across the news media: they have appeared as far afield as NPR and New Delhi television. “We did a magnificent renovation here, and we do all these programs, and we get all this publicity because of toilet paper,” she said. “But they say there’s no such thing as bad publicity.”