Library Return On Investment

About this time each year, the library finalizes the previous fiscal year and begins the new contract with the Bonneville Power Administration.  A couple of years ago, we went through a required exercise of review with the Independent Scientific Review Panel.   At that time, we were questioned about our activities and how we are of value to the research efforts for Pacific salmon (and other fisheries) in the Columbia River basin.

We spent time gathering our service statistics.  We gathered our collection statistics.  I still feel that these don’t truly reflect the Return On Investment.  Gathering some research, I am trying to justify our continued existence both in my own mind as well as the minds of the policy makers in charge of the Columbia Basin Fish & Wildlife Program.   I am also trying to justify that we expand our focus to all the fish & wildlife resources in the basin.  In this expansion, we are following on of the Laws of Librarianship: Save the time of the reader (or researcher/scientist).

With that in mind, here are some figures from a study done the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA). The association conducted a study of special libraries and their contribution to research.   The problem with studying special libraries (health, law government, subject-specific) is that these libraries are designed to serve a specialized group.  “These services are hidden from public view, but are essential contributors to the knowledge-base of their organisations (ALIA, 2014)”  They found that for every dollar spent on a special library, the return was $5.43.   This amount does not take into account “1. improved quality of results provided  and 2. the savings negotiated by librarians in procurement and assessment process (Dewey B, 2014).”

In additional to all the regular services the StreamNet Library provides for researchers who use utilize our collections and expertise, the library is also providing a one-of-a-kind collection. Yes, the University of Washington has a tremendous fisheries library.  Yes, Oregon State University has the Hatfield Marine Science Center & loads of fisheries materials.  However, we have collated the collections of both into one massive library showing the history of fisheries throughout the Pacific Northwest.  We are working on providing materials on other fish, wildlife & botanical resources to show the ecological web of the Columbia River Basin and Pacific Northwest.  You can’t get the whole picture if pieces are missing.

ALIA. 2014. Putting a value on ‘priceless’. https://www.alia.org.au/sites/default/files/ALIA-Return-on-Investment-Specials.pdf

Dewey B Strategic. 2014. http://deweybstrategic.blogspot.com/2014/04/putting-value-on-priceless-new-study.html

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