Friday, May 9, 2008

Making the Case: what research tells us about the value of libraries

Speaker: Keith Fiels – ALA Executive Director
Former director of the Mass. Board of Library Commissioners. Formerly, President of the Chief Officers of State Library Agencies, director of a library network and a staff consultant for the New York and New Jersey State Libraries.

Discussing the Value of Libraries
Educational, Economic, Social, Governmental

First area of value of libraries in education is for preschool. Plenty of research (mostly coming from Headstart) showing that children who have preparation preform better in school and life. Libraries have become eligible for Headstart funding.

Students – School Libraries Work
14 studies that have been conducted stating the importance of school libraries.
Examples given from North Carolina, Massachusetts, Missouri, Alaska, Ohio, Florida, Oregon, Pennsylvania.

Another study shows that students who use school libraries after school preform more successfully.

Studies show that college students preform better when use the library

Return on investment – how many dollars in value are generated for each dollar invested?
Direct values – if you borrow the book, you don't need to pay for it
Indirect values – for every dollar invested in the library, 4-7 dollars in benefits to the community

Florida Study –Taxpayer Return on Investment in Florida Public Libraries – found that there were nearly as many educational uses as recreational uses. Business use much higher than expected (third of use). Nearly as many person information uses as well (health, finance, job-seeking), remote internet use much higher than expected as well. $6.54 value for every dollar invested.

Measuring for Results The Dimensions of Public Library Effectiveness by Joseph Matthews:
A good books looking at:
  • Individual benefits
  • Technology Access
  • Information for Investors
  • Benefits to local businesses
  • Development of new businesses
  • Benefits to the Local Community
  • Library as an employer (almost 1 in every 1000 people is a library)
  • Purchasers of local goods and services
  • Impact on retail sales
  • Impact on neighborhood appeal (home buyers)

Social Value of Libraries
  • Literacy
  • Local history and genealogy
  • IT skills
  • Culture and Arts
  • Quality of Life
  • Equity and free access – libraries as the great equalizer
  • Personal development
  • Community building and community vitality
  • Social communication
  • Health – questions asked and answered
Democracy and Government Value of Libraries
  • Library users vote in higher numbers than non-users
  • As more government services go online there is less personal access to people – libraries have changed because of that – getting tax forms, filling out FEMA forms (after Katrina).
* * *

We're gathering data to get more research for libraries to help with ADVOCACY!

ALA has made Library Advocacy a priority since late 80's. It began with non-research based advocacy because there wasn't as much research available.

ALA vision at this point looks at advocacy, attempting to push down to keep a focus on advocacy at the national level but to increase it at state and local levels. Now ALA wants to figure out how they give local librarians the tools to “do the job”- to advocate.

Advocacy University – series of modules focused on helping local libraries with advocacy. The goal being to create a network of speakers, experts, etc. available to help with local advocacy

On Sept. 1, 2007, ALA established new office for advocacy working mainly with local advocacy
Started website called I Love Libraries for people who love libraries and want to support them.

Statewide advocacy – interesting breakthrough: “No Child Left Behind should be called Every Library Left Behind,” for the first time ever we've been able to document the first ever drop in support for school libraries. It's also been found that if a public library is closed, many friends groups and library supporters are there to fight for them, school libraries don't usually have “friends” groups to fight for them. Exception: Spokane Moms, a group of moms in Spokane, WA who fought for their school libraries and got $4 million through state legislator.

In Conclusion:

Given the forces against us: recession - ideas of privatization and "thinking outside the box" are going to become stronger. It might be easy to become discouraged, but don't believe them for a minute.

Libraries are busier than ever and more popular than ever. Sitting in front of the computer at home just isn't the same and it shows. Libraries are a place where there is community and socialization, things you can't get online.

"Libraries are the only place you can converse with a person with an advanced degree for no charge."

-Sarah C.

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