This presentation is a revised version of an original research paper that was commissioned by the Library and Information Research Group to address a current urgent issue in LIS - how we measure the value of our public libraries. The paper provides an extensive literature review of existing quantitative and qualitative evaluation methodologies for demonstrating the value, provides examples of best practice and ideas for the future. It is hoped that this paper and presentation will help the sector to develop more appropriate models for demonstrating the value of public libraries in the 21 st century. Aims: To define value To present an overview of current methods for measuring performance To discuss quantitative and qualitative evaluations methodologies To identify examples of successful library valuation projects To introduce potential methods for measuring value from the non-profit sector Methodology: Literature Review: Wide range of journals and books Relevant White Papers and Reviews Online searches (websites, digital resources, social media) Expanded beyond the UK public library sector, and into the broader areas of economics, sociology and psychology.
Libraries mean different things to different people and the impact that the public library has on the lives of individuals and communities differs significantly. The public library offers opportunities to experience a world of cultures and imagination; it can inform, inspire and challenge visitors of all ages; offer independent help and advice; present the opportunity to learn new things and meet new people; it can even save lives. It can also provide more practical services such as access to photocopiers, fax machines and printers. In other words, “[a]ll visitations do not represent equal consumption of services or equal value to the library customer” (Holt and Elliot, 2003, p. 424).
Regardless of context, defining value is a complex issue with its own philosophical discipline; axiology (Cram, 1999, p.11). Axiology , or Value Theory defines three different dimensions of value; extrinsic value, systematic value and intrinsic value (Hartman, 1969, p. 114). Thus, there are a number of different value types, including personal value , aesthetic value , religious value , spiritual value ; and ethical value . For the purpose of this presentation we will focus on two types of value from the discipline of economics; economic value and social value . These value types were also identified by Cram (1999, p. 13) in her paper on measuring the value of libraries (Figure 1).
For example, when a user secures a new job following an ICT training session; or when a local business enters a new markets following consultation with the library’s resources and information; or the impact that the existence of a public library can have on the financial performance of local shops and the value of residential properties. Thus it can be argued that the public library produces economic value on a daily basis. By adopting quantitative methods that make it possible to measure impact in this way symbolises “a shift in the role of public libraries – from passive, recreational reading and research institutions to active economic development agents” (Urban Libraries Council, 2007, p. 2).
Stronger and Safer Communities (NI 1-48) Children and Young People (NI50-118) Adult Health & Well-being NI 119-150 Tackling Exclusion & Promoting Equality NI 119-150 Local Economy & Environment NI 151-198 At the time of writing, the most up to date CIPFA report informs us of the following key statistics for the period 2007-2008: There are currently 4,540 public libraries operating in the UK Public libraries employ 25,768 staff (5,298 of which are professional staff) Public library expenditure has risen to 1,153,993,000 (from 1,016,511,000 in 2002-2003) Public libraries generated 94,863,000 in revenue compared to 138,354,000 in 2002-2003 (excludes funding from parent organisations and/or institutions) There were 328,485,042 visits; an increase of 544,256 since 2002-2003. 35,364,456 UK citizens are members of a public library (based on estimate of 58% of total population owning a library card); an increase of 1012854 since 2002-2003 (LISU, 2009) Data for the period 2009-2010 will be published in July 2010.
In other words, quantitative methods such as Audits tend to “measure what is measurable and consequently miss what is important” (Toyne and Usherwood, 1999, p.149). Therefore, such methods should be viewed with a degree of scepticism and not perceived as the ‘absolute truth’ (Chambers, 1997, p.42). It is worth noting, however, that The MLA, DCMS AND CIPFA have made a commitment to develop existing methodologies, such as the Taking Part Survey and PLUS to gather evidence that more appropriately reflects the impact and value of public libraries.
Another popular quantitative method for determining the value of public library services is the Return on Investment Study (ROI). This presents greater opportunities for public libraries to communicate their value, not only in the form of usage statistics but also in economic terms. A selection of ROIs has been selected for further discussion in this presentation. Over the last decade ROI studies have grown in popularity within the public library sector (Aabo and Audunson, 2002; Barron et al., 2005; Bolton Metropolitan Borough Council and MLA North West, 2005; British Library, 2004; Finch and Warner, 1998; Griffiths et al., 2004; Holt et al., 1999); Morris et al, 2000). This method is typically used to measure direct benefits.
Next we will take a look at some examples of successful public library ROIs... It is worth noting that additional details about these studies as well as other studies are discussed in more depth in the paper.
*Circulation, reference transactions, programming, electronic resources multiplied by frequency of use (statistics derived from the New York State Annual Reports for Public and Association Libraries) **$ value that users would have been willing to pay for these services in the marketplace ***Number of items multiplied by estimated market value. Overall, the combined method of CBA and IOMs led to a number of positive outcomes for SCLS: In the financial year following these results the SCLS received the highest amount of funding in its history The profile of SCLS was raised significantly SCLS were invited to work in partnership with other public service organisations The results of the study are still being used within the district as advocacy tools. This study inspired a number of similar smaller scale research projects within the state, all of which were supervised by Pearl Kamer (Kamer, 2006a, Kamer, 2006b, Kamer, 2006c); and all of which revealed similar positive outputs.
The LVC works as a downloadable online tool which can be modified to reflect local costs, local services etcetera. An underlying Excel spreadsheet automatically calculates monetary values when the library user inputs data related to ‘how many books they have borrowed’ or ‘hours of computer use’. Upon completion the user simply clicks a button to calculate the total value of their library use.
Thus it can be argued that the public library produces social value daily via services created to promote “education, literacy, information, leisure and culture” (UNESCO, 1994). Services such as literacy workshops that help boost self esteem; book groups that help alleviate loneliness; and digitisation projects that bring people of different ages and backgrounds together to help boost social capital.
Quantitative techniques are very good at measuring the measurable but quite ineffective at measuring benefits that are difficult to assign values to. For example, they cannot be used to measure, evaluate and communicate the full richness of the human experience. This takes us on to Qualitative Evaluations. Although sometimes more time consuming to implement, qualitative methodologies offer us a possible solution to the problems associated with measuring the social value of public libraries. The outcomes that these methods produce can enable a greater understanding of: Why citizens visit public libraries What visitors do during these visits How visitors interact with library staff Impact that a visit, or the mere presence of a public library, can have on the lives of individuals and the community.
Social In the private sector, it is referred to as social accounting , given the financial exchange between business and stakeholders. Conversely, in the public sector, social auditing investigates the effects that policy can have on the public (Percy-Smith, 1992 in Bryson et al, 2002, p.12). The Social Process Audit is a form of social auditing. It was introduced as a methodology by Blake et al in 1976. In the late 1990s it was revisited and developed, as the Social Impact Audit (SIA) by Linley and Usherwood to assess the social impact of Newcastle and Somerset library services (Usherwood & Linley, 98, p6). It was used again in 2002 by Bryson et al. on behalf of the Southwest Museums & Libraries Archives Council to assess the social impact of its museums, libraries and archives (Bryson et al, 2002, p. 5). The SIA presents many benefits for evaluators. Although the results are heavily focussed on social impacts the SIA also incorporates elements of quantitative methods to help identify economic impacts. Auditing is not restricted to the public, non-profit and environmental sectors; it can also be found in the private sector (Zadek et al., 1997). A thorough overview of this methodology is provided in the paper, along with outputs and outcomes of the study.
Ethnography, as a research strategy, originated in the early 1900s, in studies carried out by pioneering social anthropologists such as Malinowski (1922) and Mead (1943). These studies aimed to document specific cultures and people, such as tribes in Papua and Samoa (Denscombe, 2005, p. 84). Ethnography is typically comprised of four key characteristics; Culture , Holism , In-depth studies ; and Chronology (Saramtakos, 1998 quoted in Brophy, 2007, p.154) . Often, ethnographies are compared to case studies but they are by no means the same. As Pickard (2007, p.111) points out, “it is the extent to which the researcher is immersed in the context that is the real and most obvious difference”. The two differ significantly in terms of focus. For example, with a case study the researcher attempts to analyse one specific case, whereas with ethnography the researcher is dedicated to describing and interpreting groups from a social and/or cultural perspective. The timescale of these studies varies too, with the case study approach requiring the researcher to regularly visit the case study location to collect sets of predefined data. In contrast, the researcher conducting ethnography must be prepared to observe actors and groups over a prolonged period of time; often without a set of predefined themes to look out for (Creswell, 1998; Pickard, 2007, p.111).
We will now take a look at three studies which, although cannot be considered pure ethnographies, represent a step towards a more ethnography based approach to measuring the value of public libraries and digital services. First up, The Engaged Library...
Another example of the successful use of tracker surveys was published in 2008 by UK Online Centres (UKOC) . Since 2000 UKOC has carried out a range of digital inclusion projects aimed at improving social inclusion through strengthening communities and improving the lives of individuals. In 2008 it published an invaluable piece of research investigating the effect of their projects on digital inclusion and social impact. This research consisted of Social Impact Demonstrator Reports for 20 projects that had received funding from the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS) and the Learning and Skills Council (LSC). UK Online Centres Inspired by observations of the impact that digital services had on users “ We wanted to see if those changes could build into hard, measurable and fundable outcomes” (UK OC, 2008, p. 4). Tracker survey to: explore the correlation between digital inclusion and social inclusion capture and measure size, shape and value of the social impacts ICT can enable Implemented research structure created by Ipsos MORI to evaluate 20 projects, targeting ‘hard to reach’ users 3 questionnaires distributed to 1,727 participants Follow up questionnaire to track opinions and achievements Participants completed sections of questionnaire bi-monthly until eighth month of participation Final questionnaire distributed at end of project A thorough discussion of the methodology and results of this study are available in the final paper. The researchers were able to condense their findings to demonstrate that “ICT social impacts” lead to value creation in three key areas; social proficiency/social capital , cognitive proficiency and improved life chances (UKOC, 2008, p. 63). Another important output included the creation of a tested methodology for measuring and communicating social value; and methods for transforming soft outcomes into hard facts.
“ Profiling demographic segments humanises quantitative data, and can create new insights into audience groups” (UK Online Centres, 2010, p.8). Inspired by customer insight studies in commercial sector UKOC adopted proactive approach earlier this year to equip themselves with rich data to help combat future spending cuts Profiling will enable UKOC to demonstrate value of digital inclusion projects for “the people behind the numbers” (UKOK, 2010, pp.4-5).
So far we have presented a range of quantitative and qualitative methods for measuring the value of public libraries. Next we will look at a trend towards combining quantitative and qualitative methods to create Multiple Methods aimed at measuring both the economic and social value of services. The author has chosen the Scottish Library and Information Council’s (SLIC) Public Library Quality Improvement Matrix , the Seattle Central Library Benefits Valuation Assessment and a selection of Social Return on Investment studies carried out in the non-profit sector for further discussion.
This study produced much more balanced results; successfully portraying the economic AND social value of the library. The aim of this impact study was to determine the extent to which: local businesses experienced a positive economic impact due to increased visitation to the Central Library the new library affected the economic and cultural vitality of Downtown Seattle the library shaped Seattle’s image (SCL, 2005, p.1).
Methodology The researchers incorporated aspects of Holt and Elliott’s (1998) method for evaluating the economic impact of SLPL and expanded the model to incorporate a combination of additional quantitative and qualitative methods. A more detailed discussion of Pros and Cons are available in final paper.
The aim being to seek out the Andrew Carnegie’s of today by communicating the value of supporting public libraries in the 21 st century. There is already a number of methodologies currently in use in the social sector and the non-profit sector that public libraries could adopt to help achieve this goal. A selection of these methods is discussed in great depth in a research paper funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which investigated how social value creation is measured and/or estimated (Tuan, 2008). Tuan presents eight integrated approaches; two of which are have already been discussed in this presentation; and six new approaches developed within the non-profit sector that offer some hope for those interested in measuring or estimating social value. Tuan notes that “[e]ach method has its strengths and weaknesses, and no single method has been widely adopted throughout the social sector” (Tuan, 2008, p. 24):
The SROI Primer is a web tool comprising a web tour, downloadable transcripts and slides plus a list of helpful resources and a glossary of terms (NEF, 2004). Although the original REDF SROI model was used successfully to produce values for the social and financial return of six non-profits in the REDF portfolio (REDF, 2000b) (and other SROI projects throughout the world), the methodology was revisited in 2008 to address a number of flaws: SROI methods were capable of communicating important cost savings to society (such as the financial value of a reduced jail time for offenders), it failed to acknowledge the value of impacts that were difficult to quantify, such as enhanced family relationships and mental health. In other words, the methodology failed to communicate the relationship between cause and effect (Javitis, 2008, p. 2). In order to develop a greater understanding of the impact that investment had on the lives of those benefitting from investment, the REDF decided to re-evaluate their focus, concentrating more on a couple of smaller elements in the SROI model; the Social Impact Reports and the Ongoing Assessment of Social Impacts (OASIS). This work is ongoing and therefore incomplete, but a series of White Papers are being produced by the REDF to ensure regular updates on their progress for developing a more appropriate method for evaluating outcomes that are difficult to measure. One paper in particular discusses Next Generation SROI Models . The methods explored in this paper offer some hope for libraries unable to communicate the social value of their services (Gair, 2010). All of these White Papers can be accessed via the REDF website (REDF, 2010).
Methods for evaluating economic value have been around for centuries, whereas methods for measuring social value have only been around for three or so decades (Tuan, 2008, p. 7). Also, as there is no official ‘social auditing body’ that promotes uniformity in social value creation methodologies and no defined infrastructure for assessing social value, “measuring and/or estimating social value will continue to be practiced more like an isolated art form than widespread science” (Tuan, 2008, p.7). This is of relevance to the public library sector where our ability to produce social value is considered by some to be one of our greatest commodities.
There is an urgent need for the adoption of methodologies that help us to communicate the many benefits that public libraries can deliver for individuals, communities and society. This slide demonstrates just a fraction of these!
A Review of Methods for Measuring the Value of Public Libraries
LIRG SCAN AWARD 2010 A REVIEW OF EXISTING QUANTITATIVE AND QUALITATIVE EVALUATION METHODOLOGIES FOR DEMONSTRATING THE VALUE OF PUBLIC LIBRARIES Christine Rooney-Browne PhD Researcher, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow Umbrella Conference 2011
<ul><li>To define value </li></ul><ul><li>To present an overview of current methods for measuring performance </li></ul><ul><li>To discuss quantitative and qualitative evaluations methodologies </li></ul><ul><li>To identify examples of successful library valuation projects </li></ul><ul><li>To introduce potential methods for measuring value from the non-profit sector </li></ul>Objectives...
Value is not fixed... <ul><ul><li>Personal, educational, professional circumstances </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Seven Ages of Library Use (Bohme and Spiller, 1999): </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Times of crisis: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>War, Recession, Natural Disasters (New Orleans) </li></ul></ul>“ Libraries can be valued in many different ways, from hard dollars to intangibles like community goodwill and historical significance ” (Elliott, 2005).
Audits... <ul><li>CIPFA Public Library Statistic Actuals Report </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Library managers complete a report about expenditure and income, staff levels, service points, stock levels, issues, enquiries, visits, inter-library loans </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Library & Information Statistics Unit (LISU) summarises key statistics from this report in their Libraries, Archives, Museums, Publishing, Online Statistics Table (LAMPOST) </li></ul></ul>(LISU, 2010)
Pros & Cons... <ul><li>“ ...quantity of use and quality of performance do not yet prove that users benefitted from their interaction with a library. Measuring impact or outcome means going a step further and trying to assess the affect of services on users and on society” (Poll and Boekhorst, 2007, p. 31). </li></ul><ul><li>How well the library is performing statistically </li></ul><ul><li>Statistics can be invaluable (budgets, staffing, stock) </li></ul><ul><li>Enables comparisons (league tables) </li></ul><ul><li>Disparity in funding </li></ul><ul><li>Geographical location </li></ul><ul><li>Overlook contribution to lives of individuals, local community and economy </li></ul>
Return on Investment Studies (ROIs) <ul><li>Cost-Benefit Analysis (CBA) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Enables quantifiable values, such as cost or purchase price, to be applied to variables that are difficult to measure; used to measure direct benefits </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Consumer Surplus </li></ul><ul><ul><li>the value that consumers place on the consumption of a good or service in excess of what they must pay to get it </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Cost of Time and Effort </li></ul><ul><ul><li>measures time and effort expended by users </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Contingent Valuation (CV) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>measures the value of use and non-use of non-priced goods and services (e.g. public libraries) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Willingness to Pay (WTP) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Willingness to Accept (WTA) </li></ul></ul>
Input-Output Models (IOMs) <ul><ul><li>Evaluating indirect benefits (e.g. impact that library has on the local economy) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Benefits measured using mathematical software models which looks at cause and effect relationships (e.g. Regional Input-Output Modelling System II and the Regional Economic Models, Inc (REMI)). </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Have been used in the past to measure the value of beaches and parks. </li></ul></ul>“ ...if we can demonstrate our worth, with numbers, our budget numbers will be all the more justifiable” (Finch and Warner, 1998, p.158).
Combining CBAs and IOMs... <ul><li>Suffolk Cooperative Library System (SCLS) </li></ul><ul><li>Benefit-to-cost-ratio methods to measure direct benefits: </li></ul><ul><li>Total Value of library services ÷ Tax dollars supporting service: </li></ul><ul><li>$509,415,038 ÷ $131,647,566 = $3.87 : 1 benefit/cost ratio </li></ul><ul><li>For every $1 invested the library returned $3.87 in direct benefits </li></ul><ul><li>Using input-output model called RIMS II to measure indirect benefits: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Library generated $26 million in goods and services </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Library enabled local earnings to increase by more than $50 million </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Created more than 1,200 jobs for the local economy </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Total multiplier effect of SCLS spending = $232 million . </li></ul></ul><ul><li>(Imholz and Arns, 2007, p. 19). </li></ul>
Library Use Valuation Calculator... (Chelmsford Public Library, 2010)
But what about social value...? <ul><ul><li>(Rooney-Browne, 2009b). </li></ul></ul>
Ethnography... “ Ethnography is the art and science of describing a group or culture......the ethnographer is both storyteller and scientist; the closer the reader of an ethnography comes to understanding the native’s point of view, the better the story and the better the science” (Fetterman, 1998, pp. 1-2).
Tracking Value... <ul><li>The Engaged Library: Chicago Stories of Community Building </li></ul><ul><li>Prove that public libraries build social capital </li></ul><ul><li>Identify & connect the library’s assets to the community </li></ul><ul><li>Assess & strengthen the library’s connections with and use of community assets </li></ul><ul><li>Produce a toolkit for other libraries to adopt to </li></ul><ul><li>Mapping tools to perform an inventory services, identify areas for improvement and highlight library’s contribution to the community’s wider social, educational, cultural and economic goals. </li></ul>(Urban Libraries Council, 2006, pp.32-42).
Profiling... People behind the Numbers: Janet (UKOK, 2010, p.38). <ul><li>Profiling has enabled UKOC to translate faceless data into outcomes that are “tangible, practicable and workable” (UKOC, 2010, p.5). </li></ul><ul><li>Stakeholders and funders might be able to relate easier and have empathy for ‘Janet’ rather than a ‘C2DE female’. </li></ul>
Seattle Central Library Economics Benefits Assessment... (SCL, 2005, p.10).
Methodology & Results... <ul><li>CBA methods to estimate economic impact </li></ul><ul><li>Case studies, visitor and user surveys </li></ul><ul><li>Interviews with local businesses, developers and representatives from tourism </li></ul><ul><li>Analysis of visitor and usage statistics. </li></ul><ul><li>Generated $16 million in net new economic activity in its first year of operation </li></ul><ul><li>Projections next twenty years: $80m (5yrs), $155m (10 years) or $310m (20 yrs) </li></ul><ul><li>improves desirability of downtown area & Seattle as tourist destination </li></ul><ul><li>An icon </li></ul><ul><li>Findings used as an advocacy tool </li></ul>
Social Return on Investment ...the future? <ul><li>“ ...whether the capital provided is generating meaningful, real returns--returns for the manager, the investor and society as a whole” (Emerson, 2004). </li></ul><ul><li>Roberts Enterprise Development Fund (REDF) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>venture philanthropists working with non profits to create job opportunities for disenfranchised </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Created SROI Model (2000): </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Measure success...achieving goals...inform decisions...convince others of our impact </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>(Javitis, 2008, p.1). </li></ul></ul></ul>
Measuring SROI... <ul><li>Compares net benefits of a project to investment (financial & time) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Social Return Ratio (SRR): by combining net social benefits with cash flow of the business then dividing by the total value of the philanthropic investment </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>SROI Rate: by carrying out an Internal Rate of Return (IRR ) derived from total socio-economic value and total costs (Emerson and Cabaj, 2000, p. 11) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The New Economics Foundation, London Business School & Small Business Service produced a SROI Primer: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Helps organisations identify and measure social outputs, outcomes and impacts </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Provides advice to help organisations use SROI Model to translate impacts into values (NEF, 2004). </li></ul></ul>
Conclusion... <ul><li>Perfect methodology does not exist but there are many possibilities </li></ul><ul><li>No general consensus as to the ideal model for measuring value </li></ul><ul><li>Competition for funding is fierce </li></ul><ul><li>Cuts are inevitable </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Find the methodology that best fits your project and your objectives </li></ul></ul><ul><li>“ In today’s climate of accountability, a better understanding of the value of public libraries is becoming essential to preserving and encouraging public and private investment” </li></ul><ul><li>(Imholz and Arns, 2007, p.12). </li></ul>
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