Does anyone value libraries anymore? How do we demonstrate the importance of what we do? It seems that these questions have been on a lot of minds recently. After all, in these uncertain economic times it is often libraries that have been slashed at the expense of other programs and services. This is true in just about any setting, whether it is universities cutting academic libraries, local governments cutting public libraries, or corporations cutting their in-house libraries. The problem is that, as one colleague of mine likes to say, that we are seen as ‘cost centers’ rather than ‘value centers’. As long as this is the case, libraries will be seen as a resource to close budget gaps and save money.
Luckily there are a few new publications (and they are freely available online) that can help us demonstrate what we know to be the incredible return-on-investment that we achieve.
The Value of Academic Libraries by Dr. Megan Oakleaf
Research Library Issues, no. 271 (August 2010): Special Issue on Value in Libraries: Assessing Organizational Performance
There is also a great blog post that discusses the report from Dr Oakleaf on ACRLog:
On Being Valuable: Point-Counterpoint by Steven Bell and Amy Fry