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The Value of Libraries

I am reposting this great blog posting from George Needham at OCLC’s It’s All Good blog.
I will also add a link to one of my articles summarizing the library value studies that might be useful to many. It seems that there are a bunch of threats to libraries right now that we need some back up about our value in hand.
“When the drought causes the watering hole to shrink, everyone starts to look like food.”
Growling helps.
The Value of Our Libraries:. Impact, Recognition and Influencing Funders
Compiled by Don Reynolds, Past President of the Association of Rural and Small Libraries, and Director, Nolichucky Regional Library, Morristown, Tennessee
Updated February 20, 2009
Public Library Benefits Valuation Study. St. Louis Public Library, April 2001.
Library’s Contribution to Your Community. Illinois Regional Library Systems, 2002/3.
Libraries: How they stack up. An OCLC Report. OCLC, 2003.
Value of Public Library Service. Massachusetts Library Association, October 2003. Also available: “Estimated retail value and Values explained” and Calculator work sheet
The Economic Impact of Public Libraries on South Carolina. January 2005.
Taxpayer Return-on-Investment (ROI) in Pennsylvania Public Libraries. Pennsylvania Library Association, September 2006.
Value for Money: Southwestern Ohio’s Return from Investment in Public Libraries. November 2006. Report Summary
Making Cities Stronger: Public Library Contributions to Local Economic Development. Urban Libraries Council, January 2007.
Worth Their Weight – An Assessment of the Evolving Field of Library Valuation. Americans for Libraries Council (Libraries for the Future), May 2007. Two notes:
1.) This report summarizes all the various valuation projects from around the country.
2.) I was having some trouble getting this to download, but was told by Libraries for the Future that the website issue is being addressed.
Update: Betha Gutsche from WebJunction offers this alternate site for finding “Worth Their Weight.” Thanks, Betha!
Vermont Library Association’s Library Use Value Calculator – What is your library worth to you? August 2007. (Note: Follows Massachusetts model.)
Return on Investment for Public Libraries. Library Research Service (Colorado), 2007/8. Note: This site also includes numerous case studies of individual libraries. Individual ROI Calculator.
Return on Investment (ROI). North Suburban Library System (Illinois), 2008. (Note: Two calculators are available here, one for a library’s return on investment to the community, one for the ROI for an individual.)
Maine State Library’s Library Use Value Calculator. Updated 2008. Note: This approach also follows Massachusetts model.
New York Libraries: How They Stack Up! Revised October 2008. Printable brochure version, also revised October 2008″
From this small set of value studies it should be a simple task to create a list of talking points for ALL library staff, volunteers and board members. Using some of the calculators you could even create institution specific data. You’ve got an army, use it.
Good luck out there.


Posted on: February 21, 2009, 2:28 pm Category: Uncategorized

3 Responses

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  1. Stephen,
    It’s too funny that you posted this today. I’ve just today submitted a research proposal to one of my professors concerning the development of an evaluation of current library valuation methodologies. Thanks for some great links!

  2. Stephen,
    Thank you for this post. I have been thinking about the impact of our present economic woes on school library usage. Your blog has given me some food-for-further-thought on my initial contemplation.
    So far, I have seen that our students enjoy using computers as part of their instructional day. The population that I serve is rural. Our school is a Title I elementary where 85% of the students do not have the luxury of at-home Internet or computer usage.
    I am hoping to give more insight on this topic as I blog on my site ( Please continue to keep us updated on this intense and timely topic.

  3. Thanks for extending the useful life of this post, Stephen, and I’ll see you in Calgary soon!