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 Report Identifies The Services Provided by Information Professionals:
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.
· 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.