ALMA-UK has published the report on its recent research into the economic value of public 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 has also launched a toolkit to enable individual library services to measure their own economic impact.
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 good 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.
This research built on an earlier comprehensive literature review, also by ERS Research & Consultancy, of methodologies to assess the value of museums, archives and libraries.
The research has led to the creation of the Economic Value of Libraries Toolkit.
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.
This libraries toolkit joins ALMA-UK’s previously published Economic Impact Toolkit for Museums and Archives.
In welcoming the publication of the report and toolkit, ALMA-UK Chair Linda Tomos said: “In the current financial climate it is essential that public libraries can demonstrate their significant economic impact. This initial research clearly demonstrates the economic benefits to library users of using our public libraries. I encourage public library services to make use of this free toolkit developed by ALMA UK.”
To read the research reports and access the toolkits click here