Close up image of a woman filling out a form in pen.

The Scottish Library and Information Council in partnership with Carnegie UK Trust has commissioned the Library and Information Statistics Unit (LISU) at Loughborough University to carry out research into measuring the impact of Scotland’s libraries.

Over the coming weeks the LISU will contact Scottish public library services as well as key partners and stakeholders such as CILIPS, COSLA and the Improvement Service to gather evidence. The Association of Public Libraries Scotland, which represents all 32 local authorities, will also help the Unit with their research.

Measuring Impact

The investigation will focus on how Scottish public libraries currently measure impact and how this compares to other sectors and countries. The findings will then be used to help library services better demonstrate their use and impact – ultimately contributing to the successful delivery of the National Strategy for Public Libraries in Scotland.  

Researchers Claire Creaser and Valerie Spezi from Loughborough will gather background information as well as carry out extensive telephone and face-to-face interviews. The research is expected to be published in summer 2017.

SLIC CEO Pamela Tulloch said: “We anticipate this timely piece of research to be extremely useful to the public library community in Scotland and beyond. Public libraries deliver a diverse range of services which contribute to people’s lives in powerful ways. Libraries can support specific education and employment goals but library services also contribute to general wellbeing and offer access to culture in our communities.

“Libraries monitor the number of visits they receive but a visit to a library can cover so many activities. This study will enable libraries to discover and demonstrate the full range of benefits they are delivering across society."

Valuable Addition

The research could equip libraries with important statistics and help to influence decision makers. It will also be a valuable addition to existing quantitative measures such as SLIC’s Economic Value Toolkit, which provides library and information services with everything they need to assess how cost-effective their services are.

Martyn Evans, CEO, Carnegie UK Trust added: "Public libraries are well loved but still need to improve ways to measure and demonstrate their value to policy makers, decision makers and funders. We are supporting this project to show impact at a local level and so be winners in securing funding in the future. While the project focuses on Scotland, the results will be of very keen interest to the library sector throughout the UK and Ireland.

"Scotland's public libraries are used by people at different stages of their lives and in many different ways - from reading, to participating in courses, to using digital equipment, to accessing services. The breadth and depth of this engagement poses challenges to library services seeking to assert their role and the difference they make to people's lives."

For more information on demonstrating the impact of libraries have you can visit our Advice & Guidance page.