Library Week has brought us a
gift from “the land downunder.” The Australian Law Librarians’ Association

(ALLA)  and 3 other Library
organzations (The
Australian Library and InformationAssociation (ALIA), Health Libraries
Inc (HLInc),Health Libraries Australia
(HLA)) collaborated on a study
to measure the Return on Investment of Australian special libraries.The partners commissioned
award-winning firm SGS Economics and Planning  to study special
libraries across the nation. This week,  the final report was issued “ Putting a Value on Priceless”  which provides an independent assessment of the return on investment provided to organizations which have their own special
libraries and information services in Australia.

The Survey
was conducted between June and September 2013 and was supplemented by in depth case
studies. 5% of Australia’s 2200 special libraries
participated.

Conservatively,
special libraries are estimated to deliver $5.43 in value for
every one dollar spent. The true value is likely even higher

The study
does not calculate the additional economic benefit of
two benefits which information professionals provide. 1. improved
quality of results provided  and 2. the
savings negotiated by librarians in procurement and assessment process. So it may not be a stretch to assume that if these other factors were calculated in the ratio of value to cost might be 10 to 1. So the 5.43 to one ratio is quite conservative.

The report concludes that an increased investment in libraries and hiring
of more information professionals would “ unleash the potential for significant
incremental benefits.”

 Benefits Provided by Information Professionals

·        
Assure
that decisions are supported by solid facts

·        
Develop
a customized suite of print and digital resources to support the organizations
needs

·        
Provide access
to non digital resources though expert
knowledge of external resources and resource
sharing from other special and academic libraries

·        
Source
obscure facts. Saves time and costs less per hour to accomplish result than if project assigned to a non-librarian

·        
Higher
quality results. The average researcher uses
a basic Google search and never looks past the first 2 pages of results. 98% of
non-librarians have never used the advanced
search on Google.

·        
Libraries 
support organizational due diligence and reduce risks of ill informed decision
making. In the case of law firms this means providing bad advice to clients and risking malpractice
claims.

The Report Identifies The Services Provided by Information Professionals:

·        
Fast and thorough searches, presenting the latest, most
comprehensive and accurate information to executives and practitioners.
·        
Training to enable library users to carry out their own searches
of electronic databases more efficiently and effectively.
·        
The
expertise of the information professionals is what drives the $5.43 ROI per
dollar.
·        
Filtered, evaluated and packaged search results.
·        
 Relevant, tailored, current information from national and
international sources.
·        
Assistance for people who are studying for a tertiary
qualification and training to achieve a higher level of competency.
·        
 Manage a dynamic collection of physical and online resources, so
staff can access  
up-to-date, authoritative resources, and make well-informed
decisions.
·        
Negotiate with publishers of books, journals and online resources,
to achieve the best value for the department.
·        
Ensure the materials and the ways they are used are copyright
compliant.

I want to thank all of the Australian Library Associations for
undertaking this study. Library Directors  around the world have been seeking the elusive ROI
metric for years. AALL is undertaking a Value of Law Libraries Study and it
will be interesting to see if they can also provide a solid RIO metric for US law
libraries. If the studies deliver consistent results it will strengthen the credibility of  these metrics as reliable benchmarks.  I am happy to
celebrate Library Week with the highly useful metric provided by the
Australian Special Libraries/SGS Economics and Planning report.

  • Anonymous

    Very useful when you need to prove your worth to a cost-cutting CEO who thinks the library is irrelevant in an internet age!