Libraries and return on investment (ROI): A meta-analysis
Journal article, Peer reviewed
An earlier version of this paper was presented at the 15th international conference on cultural economics ( a c e i) in boston 12-15 june 2008 and at the 16th b o b c a t s s s symposium 28-30 january 2009 in porto, portugal.
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Original versionAabø, S. (2009). “Libraries and return on investment (ROI): A meta-analysis”. New Library World 110, (7/8), 311-324. http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/03074800910975142
Purpose of this paper: The need to communicate the value of libraries is growing, and especially now during the global financial crisis. As a response library valuation research is expanding and there is now a need for a status report. Background: The library valuation field is on its way to generating a critical mass of empirical studies. The focus of this meta-analytical review is on the subgroup that reports a return on investment (ROI) or a cost-benefit ratio. Methods used for the study: Meta-analysis is a quantitative analysis of findings of previous studies, conducted to infer general findings and lessons from prior empirical research. The dataset is 38 library valuation studies reporting a return on investment figure or cost-benefit ratio. Findings: 32 of the 38 studies are of public libraries, a number high enough to indicate a tenable result. The meta-analysis indicate that the patterns in the findings are consistent with expectations regarding the benefit types that are included in the ROI figure, the methods used, and the scope of the study. Value of paper: This study appears to be the first meta-analytical review of library studies reporting a return on investment figure. The tentative conclusion is that for each dollar invested in public libraries they return, on average, approximately four times more. This is a strong message with policy implications.