April 23, 2018

Update: NY Library To Adopt Ad-Supported Toilet Paper

This article has been edited to include comment from the library director.

Toilet paper printed with advertisements will appear in the bathrooms of the Port Chester-Rye Brook, NY, Public Library in October, according to The Journal News.

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.”

Meredith Schwartz About Meredith Schwartz

Meredith Schwartz (mschwartz@mediasourceinc.com) is Executive Editor of Library Journal.

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  1. I see no harm in it, and it’s an excellent way for the library to save money. Many years ago I encountered toilet paper with printing on it when traveling in Ireland. All of it was not ads, however. My favorite was paper imprinted with, “And now wash your hands.”

  2. You have an excellent company…for me to poop on!

  3. Melvin Rosenberg says:

    Bad little boys may take the hint and use the pages torn from beautiful books to clean their sweet and fuzz less little rears. Also I have to say these ads stink.

  4. Has there been any concerns about infections or UTI’s, especially among women? I would be concerned about this.

  5. As a parent of two soy-allergic children, this would leave me in quite a pinch if I were to visit their library!