In May 2014, the Alliance of Libraries Museums and Archives (ALMA) UK published a report on The Economic Impact of Libraries. A key finding was that users of libraries place a theoretical monetary value of between £24 and £27 per visit on their library services, which is between 5.5 and 7.5 times greater than the cost of provision. ALMA-UK also launched a toolkit to enable individual library services to measure their own economic impact.
The Toolkit provides libraries with a means of assessing their own value to users, and, if required, to combine results into service-wide, regional, or country-wide impacts. It is freely available and simple to use, providing the survey templates, undertaking all calculations automatically, and offering guidance on everything from setting up the surveys to aggregating the results.
The Economic Value of Libraries Toolkit comprises:
Libraries Economic Value Toolkit Guide
Libraries Economic Value Survey
Libraries Economic Value Calculator (for use by single library service)
Libraries Economic Value Summary Calculator (for use by multiple library services)
Public Libraries in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales contributed to the research, which was based on over 4000 user surveys conducted at 50 public libraries in Scotland, 25 in Wales, and 8 in Northern Ireland, and undertaken in the summer of 2013 for ALMA UK by ERS Research & Consultancy.
The study measured economic value by considering the cost to individuals of using the services, their spending with local service providers and the money saved by using the library, as well as employment and supply chain effects.
Moreover, the operation of the libraries was found to support employment and supply chains locally, as spending of library employees creates profits for suppliers of goods and services that multiply through the economy. The research estimated that in 2012-13 public libraries supported 1,296 jobs in Scotland, 596 jobs in Wales and 327 in jobs in Northern Ireland over and above those directly employed by the service.