ALMA-UK announces publication of new research on the Economic Value of Libraries and launch of the Economic Value of Libraries Toolkit

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

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Northern Ireland Museums Council launches Creative Industries Toolkit

The Northern Ireland Museums Council (NIMC) has launched a toolkit to help museums collaborate with creative industries.

Across Northern Ireland museums and creative businesses are increasingly working together; digital media developers are assisting with the interpretation of collections, film companies are using museums as locations, and designers are drawing on museum collections for inspiration. The economic benefit of such collaborations is growing.

By way of generating more partnerships between the creative industries and museums, the Northern Ireland Museums Council has launched a pioneering toolkit to help these relationships to grow and prosper. It has developed a series of ‘how-to’ guidance sheets, covering concept development, finding partners, overcoming practical and contractual hurdles, and funding sources.

The toolkit resources have wider applicability and relevance for public libraries and archive services.

The NIMC Director, Chris Bailey, said,

“Our toolkit will make it easier for museums and creative businesses to collaborate successfully. There are huge benefits to such partnerships, and both sectors see distinct economic value in working together. On the one hand museum objects are being used as an unparalleled source of inspiration for our artists, designers and those working with digital media. And on the other hand, we see museums drawing upon local, cutting-edge creative businesses to develop novel ways in which people can engage with their collections.”

NIMC received funding for devising the toolkit through the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s Creative Industries Innovation Fund.

Lorraine McDowell, Director of Operations at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said;

“At the Arts Council we want to put our support firmly behind both local companies and sector development bodies such as NIMC to help them develop and transform their creative ideas into commercial success. The source of our wealth, job creation and economic competitiveness is shifting to our burgeoning creative sector and we need to make all those involved as best equipped as possible to compete at the forefront of the global market. Investment in creative industries is generating high economic returns and the potential of the Museum and Creative Industries Toolkit is extremely exciting.”

The Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure invested £4m over the last four years to grow and develop the creative industries. The Creative Industries Innovation Fund provided support for innovative development of commercially viable content, products, services and experiences capable of competing in global markets. With the toolkit being available through the NIMC website, it can be used throughout the world, strengthening Northern Ireland’s position as a leader in providing imaginative and practical support for its creative industries.

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ALMA-UK seeks Co-ordinator

ALMA-UK is currently seeking a part-time co-ordinator for a period of 12 months.

We require an experienced individual who has the communication skills to support the work of the Alliance. The successful applicant will be skilled in managing projects with complex ownership, and demonstrate understanding of the political, operational and contextual environment in which the UK cultural bodies operate, as well as the national factors affecting museums, libraries and archives and the issues which influence them.

The post will also provide a secretariat and administrative support for the Alliance including specific support for joint projects.

The closing date for applications is Friday 14 September. Download the job description and application form.

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Economic Impact Toolkit launched for archives and museums

A major new tool which enables archives and museums to accurately assess their economic impact has been launched by the Archives, Libraries and Museums Alliance UK (ALMA-UK) and is now available on the AMLA-UK web site at


The Economic Toolkit’s publication is of particular importance during these difficult financial times as it will enable museums and archives to demonstrate to funders, and the wider community, the positive impact that their services have on their local and regional economies.


The easy-to-use toolkit has been developed, under the guidance of ALMA-UK, by ERS Research and Consultancy, and is based on an extensive exercise to identify the most useful and crucially usable methodology for archives and museums, which share a similar economic perspective in that they attract a significant number of non-local customers.


The uniqueness of archive and museum services and products led ALMA-UK to conclude that their impact is most easily assessed through calculating the pattern and scale of each organisation’s expenditure on goods and services, and on their employees and volunteers, and then to assess the scale of expenditure by non-local visitors to these organisations.


The piloting of the toolkit has shown that it is easy and speedy to use, taking no more than five minutes to enter customer data.  Key elements include:


  • as an electronic resource, all calculations for user museums or archives are undertaken automatically and has in-built processes to identify and iron-out any anomalies;
  • unlike other tools it captures volunteer contributions and is able to assign a value to this element
  • it converts all impacts into an overall, combined assessment for an organisation, expressing this as a jobs created figure, an expenditure figure and a value-added impact figure


The toolkit has been piloted in all four nations of the UK and is now freely available on the ALMA website for museums and archives to use electronically.


Alison Turnbull, Head of Research and Standards at Museums Galleries Scotland and the project leader on behalf of ALMA-UK, commented: “We are delighted to launch the economic impact toolkit for museums and archives. This useful tool is easy to use and allows individual organisations to measure their economic impact.

“This information can be used for other purposes, such as funding applications and advocacy. Providing an overview is vital to demonstrate the work of this sector. The toolkit was produced in partnership with all of the countries in the ALMA-UK grouping. The process demonstrates the strength of cross partnership working.”


During the development of the toolkit, a dialogue was maintained with the West Midlands Observatory, a grouping of cultural organisations in this area of England, as they have developed a toolkit which covers the culture sector, including focussing on events and covering wider geographical areas. ALMA’s first level of analysis is based on local government units but can be extrapolated to a whole country.  The concurrent development of both of these tools emphasised the importance of this approach at this time.

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Agenda ALMA-UK Meeting, 8 July 2011

The next ALMA-UK meeting will take place 1130 – 1500 on Friday 8 July at the Riverside Museum in Glasgow. Refreshments will be available on arrival and lunch will be provided. The meeting will also be followed by a tour of the recently opened museum. Papers will be made available shortly.


  1. Apologies
  2. Action points-10/03/11
  3. Economic Impact Study
    Phase 1 evaluation  Alison Turnbull
    Phase 2 evaluation  Oliver Allies, Alison Turnbull and Elaine Fulton
  4. Leadership Project Update  Linda Tomos
  5. ACE/MLA Transition  Anna Jobson
  6. TNA/MLA Transition  Nick Kingsley
  7. ALMA-the future  Chair
  8. National Library Week  Elaine Fulton
  9. Licensing-PRS,E-books,Hargreaves repot etc  Elaine Fulton
  10. Members Update
  11. AOB
  12. Date of next meeting

Highlights from ALMA-UK Meeting, 10 March 2011

March’s meeting of ALMA-UK was hosted by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) in London.

Members welcomed representatives from Arts Council England and The National Archives to discuss major changes in the year ahead for the strategic leadership of the museums, libraries and archives sector.

Main items on the agenda and issues under discussion:

Joint activity

Organisational Change



Information exchange


Joint Activity


Economic Impacts Project


Alison Turnbull, Museums Galleries Scotland, and Oliver Allies, ERS, updated the group on progress with Stages 1 and 2 of ALMA-UK’s Economic Impacts Project.

In September 2010, ALMA-UK commissioned ERS to scope and analyse economic impact methodologies for museums, libraries and archives, with the aim of demystifying economic impact calculation and supporting sector advocacy by providing organisations with an accessible tool to capture their data robustly, consistently and cost effectively.

This Stage 1 scoping report is now complete and will be published on members’ sites during April 2011.


During Stage 1, ERS carried out a desk review of over 60 impact studies from the UK and America, examining the relative merits and transferability of the various approaches. ALMA-UK members have now combined resources to commission a second stage of research, which will involve developing and piloting two toolkits, based on the report’s recommendations.

One toolkit will be created for museums and archives using the methodology of multiplier analysis. Development is being joint-funded by Museums Galleries Scotland, the Scottish Council on Archives, CyMAL: Museums Archives and Libraries Wales, the Northern Ireland Museums Council and the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland.

A second toolkit, based on the Return on Investment methodology, will be developed for libraries. This toolkit is being jointly commissioned by the Scottish Library and Information Council and CyMAL and will add to other research work by both organisations on Social Return on Investment.

The two toolkits recognise the differences between museums, libraries and archives and their relative reliance upon the visitor economy. Both toolkits will be made freely available and will comprise an online calculator accompanied by written guidance.

Completion of the museums and archives toolkit is anticipated by April 2011. The libraries toolkit will require extensive user surveys to establish strong benchmarks and is expected to take 6 – 8 months to bring to launch.

To find out more about the museums and archives toolkit development contact ALMA-UK project lead Alison Turnbull.

To find out more about the libraries toolkit development contact ALMA-UK project lead Rhona Arthur.

ALMA-UK is actively collaborating with a number of other bodies to share its findings and complement economic impact research being carried out elsewhere in the UK cultural sector, including work by ACE West Midlands, DCMS, Creative Scotland and the Scottish Government. Read about some of these of other initiatives here:


Leadership Development



Helen Osborn, Libraries NI, updated the group on progress with ALMA-UK’s study on leadership development interventions.

A draft report had been presented at the November meeting of ALMA-UK, following which the project workgroup had met to discuss how to disseminate the findings to best effect. Work was underway to transfer key data from the report into a standardised template, to create a practical information resource capable of quick reference.

Members discussed the demise of the Cultural Leadership Programme and impending succession issues in local authority cultural services, noting the importance of promoting collective thinking between the sector’s strategic and professional bodies in providing solutions for future leadership development.

The results of ALMA-UK’s study will be shared with the Sector Skills Councils, the Archives and Records Association, CILIP and the Museums Association.



Performing Rights Societies (PRS) and Collection Societies


An Information Guide on public performance licences for music and film activities in public libraries, developed jointly by ALMA-UK’s library members, was published in November 2011 and distributed to heads of library services through the Society of Chief Librarians and the Scottish Library and Information Council (SLIC).

Members discussed the need to ensure that the information reached frontline staff and the importance of continuing efforts to raise sector awareness of the issues covered by the guidance.

The Information Guide is available to download from the SLIC and CyMAL websites.



E-book lending

ALMA-UK’s library members are continuing to collaborate with the Society of Chief Librarians (SCL) to address new restrictions on e-book lending announced at the Publishers Association’s (PA) Conference in October 2010.

Members are committed to working together and to continuing communication with the PA to find a model of service delivery for e-lending in public libraries which provides mutual benefits for libraries, publishers and authors.

Read the joint position of the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council and SCL on E-books.


Organisational Change


MLA Transition


In December 2010, it was publicly announced that Arts Council England (ACE) would take over a number of functions relating to museums and libraries following the abolition of the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) by 2011-12.

At the same time it was announced that ACE would not be taking on MLA’s strategic archive functions, with the exception of certain cultural property functions relevant to museums, libraries and archives such as export licensing, Government Indemnity, acceptance in lieu and security advice.

Members welcomed Anna Jobson, Head of Strategy for ACE, to provide an update on the transition plans and progress.

The transfer of MLA’s museums and libraries functions, including Renaissance, the Museum Accreditation and Designation Schemes, the Future Libraries Programme and London 2012 activity, was anticipated by October 2011.

Members offered ACE their full support in the change process, giving particular weight to preserving the successful UK-wide dimension of the Museum Accreditation Scheme.

Arrangements for the transfer of MLA’s archive functions were not yet finalised, however a ministerial announcement was imminent.

With the fragmentation of MLA’s responsibilities, members discussed the vital importance of continuing close dialogue across nations and domains and the value of ALMA-UK as a forum to facilitate regular knowledge exchange.

For more information about the transfer of MLA’s functions see the following reports:


MGS to become National Development Body


Joanne Orr, Museums Galleries Scotland, outlined changes ahead arising from the Scottish Government’s response in December 2010 to the publication of the Report and Recommendations of the Scottish Museums Think Tank.

MGS have been invited by the Scottish Government to become a new National Development Body and to help develop a national strategy for Scotland’s museums.

Preliminary details were to be presented to MGS members at the AGM on 18 March, with sector consultation on the strategy beginning in summer 2011 and on the National Development Body in the autumn.

MGS welcomed offers from CyMAL and the Northern Ireland Museums Council to share learning from the recent development of their national museum strategies.

Read more about MGS’s work towards a national strategy:

See here for the Museum Strategy for Wales 2010-2015 and the Northern Ireland Museums Policy.


Information Exchange


HLF Skills for the Future: MGS and NIMC workforce development initiatives

Jane Robinson, Museums Galleries Scotland, and Chris Bailey, Northern Ireland Museums Council presented a comparison of current workforce development initiatives, grant funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund’s Skills for the Future programme.

NIMC’s Collections Skills Initiative NI will recruit 12 participants to undertake a one-year collections care-focused placement in a local or national museum. Participants will be supported to develop skills under the headings of caring for collections, collections management, and collections research and interpretation.

See MGQ, Scotland’s Museums and Galleries Quarterly, Issue 18, Winter 2010/11 and the MGS website for the latest news on its Skills for the Future Interns Programme.


Future Libraries Programme

Rachel Kerr, Policy Adviser for the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) provided an update on the emerging benefits of the Future Libraries Programme (FLP), designed to support English local authorities find new ways of delivering effective library services in a challenging economic climate.

Learning from Phase 1 of the programme will be shared through a number of routes. A Community of Practice has been set up to facilitate the exchange of experiences and learning between the ten pilot authorities. Events have also been planned for March and April 2011.

MLA will prepare two reports, one for DCMS outlining the detail of the programme (for publication by the end of March) and another web-based report aimed at Elected Members and Directors (to be issued by the end of May).

Read more about the dissemination of FLP learning here:


Northern Ireland Museums Policy launch


The final draft of the Northern Ireland Museums Policy was presented to the Culture, Arts and Leisure Committee of the Northern Ireland Assembly on 17 February 2011. It is anticipated that the policy will be formally launched towards the end of March.

Read the Hansard minute of the presentation here.


Review of the value and impact of museums in Northern Ireland


In December 2010 the Culture, Arts and Leisure Committee announced a review into the social and economic impact of museums in Northern Ireland.

Read an overview of the review and transcriptions of the oral evidence received here.


Northern Ireland Decade of Remembrance

2011-2022 gives rise to immense opportunities for civil society to mark some of the critical anniversaries which have impacted on concepts of British and Irish identity in Northern Ireland.

A one-day conference Remembering the Future on 21 March in Belfast, organised by the Community and Relations Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund in Northern Ireland, aims to kick-start a public debate on how the past is acknowledged and how pivotal events in the past can be turned into opportunities for learning, challenge and engagement.


Reopening of Public Record Office of Northern Ireland


PRONI’s new state-of-the art premises in Belfast’s Titanic Quarter opens to the public on 30 March 2011.


Next meeting


The next full meeting of ALMA-UK will be held on 8 July in Scotland.

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Highlights from ALMAUK Meeting, 18 November 2010

November’s meeting of ALMAUK was hosted by CyMAL: Museums Archives and Libraries Wales, in Cardiff.

Find out how our member organisations are sharing thinking and working together to support sustainable solutions for archives, libraries and museums in a fast-changing fiscal and technological environment.

Main items on the agenda and issues under discussion:

Joint activity

Budgets and organisational change

Information exchange

Joint Activity

Economic Impacts Project

Oliver Allies, lead consultant for ERS presented interim findings on ALMAUK’s economic impacts project.

Over 70 research documents on economic impact methodologies have now been mapped and analysed, with a focus on the principal approaches of multiplier analysis, contingent valuation and return on investment.

The research is thought to represent the most comprehensive examination of economic impact methodologies ever undertaken by or for the UK museums, libraries and archives sector.

Initial findings confirm that organisations across the UK would welcome a robust, cost effective mechanism for calculating their economic impact at a local level, together with clear guidance on what data to collect, when and why.

Further stakeholder consultation will take place in early December. The final report with recommendations for effective data capture and the creation of sector toolkits will be completed by Christmas.

ALMAUK project partners will review the report’s findings and consider next steps by the end of January 2011.


Leadership Development

Katie Pecakar, Policy Adviser for the Museums Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) presented a draft report in support of ALMA-UK’s leadership development project.

The report represents a collective effort by ALMAUK members to create an overview of current and recent leadership development interventions in museums, libraries and archives across the UK.

The study gathers a range of case studies from all four nations, highlighting the challenges of collecting relevant data at a local level, particularly in relation to smaller organisations and to archive services.

Respondents emphasised the difficulties of combating leadership development issues in the current financial climate, with freezes in hiring, job losses and reduced workforce development budgets endemic across the sector.

Despite this, the report concludes that it is precisely because of the huge changes taking place that leadership development is seen to be more important than ever:

‘Leaders need new skills in order to operate in new political and organisational contexts and the radical restructures that many are experiencing could provide an opportunity to rethink the role of leadership and how it is embedded in the organisation in order to improve effectiveness going forward.

Further work will be carried out by the ALMAUK project workgroup to consider how best to disseminate the report’s findings and to facilitate learning about leadership development activity across the nations.


Performing Rights Societies (PRS) and Collecting Societies

Elaine Fulton, Director of the Scottish Library and Information Council (SLIC) updated members on progress with ALMAUK’s collaborative activity on PRS licences.

Following extensive consultation with expert bodies and with legal advice, an Information Guide on Public Performance Licenses has now been issued.

The Guide sets out the circumstances under which public libraries in the UK may need to purchase a licence or licences for music, or film related public performances.

The document has been written jointly by MLA, SLIC, CyMAL: Museums Archives and Libraries Wales, and Libraries NI.


E-book lending

Members considered the implications for public library services of the announcement by the Publishers Association (PA) at the CILIP Public Libraries Authorities conference, on 21 October, of new restrictions on e-book lending.

The PA’s new terms heighten restrictions on remote access to e-books, barring borrowers from downloading publications outside library premises.

Members agreed the need to find a licensing solution for public libraries that embraces the People’s Network principles, and which addresses both commercial concerns and public service needs.  The provision of clear guidance for libraries was recognised as essential.

Full support was given for a concerted approach across the four nations.

ALMAUK lead contact: Elaine Fulton, Director, SLIC and CILIP in Scotland.


2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games: Libraries and volunteering

MLA reported the invaluable role played by public libraries across the UK in supporting volunteer recruitment for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Applications for the 2012 Games Makers volunteering programme opened on 15 September and closed on 27 October.

With support from ALMAUK, MLA and the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (LOGOC) have worked in partnership with the Society of Chief Librarians (SCL), SLIC and the volunteer agencies in each nation to help promote public engagement with the Games Maker programme.

The UK library network played a vital role in opening up the online application process to those individuals without ready computer access.

Information from LOCOG was cascaded to public library services across England, Wales and Northern Ireland via SCL, and to Scottish services via SLIC.

Libraries offered applicants free or low-cost internet access to the Games Maker website, support with internet training where needed, and information about further options for volunteering in their local communities.

MLA aims to work with LOCOG to explore how libraries can continue to play a high profile role in providing 2012 information and promoting engagement with 2012 cultural and volunteering opportunities.

Related link: Libraries’ role in 2012 volunteering (MLA, 29 July 2010)


Archives and Records Association

Members welcomed René Kinsett, Head of Public Affairs for the Archives and Records Association, the principal professional body for archivists, archive conservators and records managers in the UK and Ireland.

The ARA came into existence on 1 June 2010. The new organisation merges the National Council on Archives and the Association of Chief Archivists in Local Government with the Society of Archivists.

Discussion focussed on developing understanding of ARA’s regional and national structure and on identifying shared interests. ARA will map potential opportunities for future joint working with ALMAUK bodies, for consideration at the next meeting in March.


Budgets and organisational change

Impact of the Comprehensive Spending Review

ALMAUK members shared information about the impact of budget cuts and organisational change, both known and anticipated, in each of the four nations.

The group discussed the probable transition of MLA’s functions to Arts Council England, with particular reference to MLA’s UK-wide responsibilities for the Museum Accreditation Scheme and for statutory cultural property functions, including Export Control and the Acceptance in Lieu Scheme.

For further information on budgets and the impact of cuts, see the following related news reports:


Launch of Museums Galleries Scotland’s Choices for Change toolkit

Alison Turnbull, Head of Standards and Research for MGS, presented Choices for Change, a new toolkit which encourages local authorities to explore alternative options of service delivery and business models.

The toolkit has been designed to help local authorities make decisions about how they deliver locally in a ‘cuts climate’.

Available from


Future Libraries Programme

Members discussed the cross-nation relevance of this ambitious change programme for English libraries, which aims to take a strategic approach to exploring radical efficiency options.

The programme represents a partnership initiative between national and local government, with local authorities positioned firmly in the driving seat.

MLA and the Local Government Association are working together to support ten pioneering projects, by helping councils to broker partnerships, establish new delivery mechanisms and to build economies of scale and sustainable critical mass.

Learning from the projects will be considered at the next ALMAUK meeting, in the context of a wider debate and knowledge sharing on new models of service delivery.


Information exchange

Launch of the Scottish Library and Information Council’s policy briefing Libraries connecting people and communities

Makes the case for all libraries from the smallest community library to those in major universities and the National Library of Scotland.

The briefing calls on policymakers to recognise the value of library and information services to Scotland’s economic and skills development, education, cultural and literary heritage in manifestos.


Launch of National Youth Information Framework

A quality improvement framework aimed at enhancing young people’s access to high quality, up-to-date information on issues of particular interest to them.

Developed by Young Scot in partnership with SLIC and the Scottish Government. The tool is targeted at all organisations and professionals who are involved in developing and providing information for and with young people.


Launch of Museums Galleries Scotland’s Interns Programme

A project under the Heritage Lottery Fund’s Skills for the Future Programme. MGS’s year-long programme will begin in September 2011 and aims to address issues of workforce entry and diversity, current skills gaps and shortages, and knowledge transfer.

ALMAUK contact: Jane Robinson, Head of Museum Development, MGS


Publication of Libraries NI: a year of change (2009/10)

Overview of the key achievements of Libraries NI during its first year of operation. Responsibility for public library services transferred from the five Education and Library Boards to Libraries NI, the new Northern Ireland Library Authority, on 1 April 2009.

Copies available from


Publication of Issue 10 of CyMAL magazine (Winter 2010)

News and features from the museum, archive and library sector in Wales. Includes information on the launch of Culturenet Cymru’s Digitisation Toolkit, which aims to promote best practice in creating high quality digital content for the heritage sector.


Public Record Office of Northern Ireland relocation update

PRONI’s current site at Balmoral Avenue closed to the public on 6 September 2010, to allow the relocation of collections and staff to new, purpose-built premises in the city’s Titanic Quarter.

The new PRONI building will open to the public on 31 March 2011.


Next meeting

The next full meeting of ALMAUK members will be hosted by the Museums Libraries and Archives Council in London, on Thursday 10 March 2011.


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Welcome to ALMA-UK

ALMA-UK is a voluntary cross-nation partnership dedicated to enhancing the public value of archives, libraries and museums across the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

It is the only group that gathers the strategic bodies for all three domains of archives, libraries and museums across all four UK nations in equal partnership and voice.

Read more about ALMA-UK and how we work.

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