Recommendation 1: Do not assume use equates with value. Best to be prepared with some tangible evidence of value which ROI can provide.
Recommendation 2: Take time to plan ROI calculations. Our complex resource packages and variety of vendors offer challenges.
Recommendation 3: Numbers do not tell the whole story. You can't rely on ROI data alone!
This section offers approaches and standard templates for library stats collection. Two examples and a video are provided below.
Return on Investment (ROI)
Sometimes we are called to provide a cost benefit analysis for some of our services or collections. For health libraries, the return is generally not 'income' but rather savings from using external services.
Social Return on Investment is an emerging concept. It captures intangible benefits. To date, no tools have been developed to measure SROI.
This page is dedicated to tools and sources of background information on ROI.
Case Study: Hazelden Library and Information Resources
Barbara Weiner published an important study, A Bottom Line Adventure, in 2000 (Behavioral & Social Sciences Librarian, 182(2): 27-31). The Hazelden Library is a health library supporting clinical, publishing and education activities. Although an older study, it remains a good 'how to' example of demonstrating and calculating the dollar value of worth. It is a resource for NN/LM's course, Measuring Your Impact: Using Evaluation to Measure Your Impact. See the reprint of the Weiner paper: Marketing: Making a Case for your Library.
In a nutshell, add the $ value of benefits:
Divide this by the Library Budget.
ROI in the case of the Hazelden Library for 1998 (consistent with current studies):
Interesting. Compare this to recent evaluation studies:
All significantly positive!
The National Network of Libraries of Medicine offers three tools to guide you through ROI calculations. Some points:
Methodological Considerations from an Economics Perspective by Bruce Kingma, Associate Provost for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Syracuse University. 2012
Advance to 9:30 mark to watch section on ROI.