In today’s world, it’s becoming increasingly important to highlight not only how many different services public libraries provide, but that funding these services is exceptionally good value for money.
Scotland’s public libraries are the most popular civic resource local government offers. For every £1 of public money invested in libraries they deliver £8 worth of benefit to the community.
Assessing the economic value of individual libraries can be an excellent way of demonstrating just how cost-effective the services you provide are. It can show you the average monetary value of an individual visit, the average savings made by these visitors and the amount of expenditure by a library within your locality. All this information can be vital when libraries need to prove the economic benefits of services outweigh the costs.
In 2014 the Alliance of Museums and Archives UK published The Economic Impact of Libraries Report. The Scottish Library and Information Council played an active part in the creation of the report which looked at the value of public library services in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The paper highlights library users place a theoretical monetary value of £24 - £27 per visit on their library service, which is 5.5 - 7.5 times greater than the cost of provision.
The operation of libraries was also found to support local employment and supply chains. The report estimated that in 2012-13 public libraries supported 1296 jobs in Scotland over and above those directly employed by the service.
At the same time as the report ALMA-UK launched an Economic Value Toolkit – equipping libraries with all they need to measure their own economic impact.
Free and simple to use, the toolkit offers guidance on everything from setting up surveys to gathering results. Although primarily aimed at public libraries, the information is both relevant and useful to libraries and information centres of all kinds.
The toolkit includes Survey Templates to carry out specific reviews and two calculators, the Economic Value Calculator for a single library service and the Economic Value Summary Calculator for multiple library services.
By investigating your library’s economic value, you could uncover important statistics which emphasises the vital role libraries play in our communities.