Value of Academic Libraries Toolkit

Prepared by the
ACRL Assessment Committee
October 2010

A new, updated toolkit is currently in process. Stay tuned! 



The ACRL Value of Academic Libraries Toolkit furthers ACRL’s commitment to helping members demonstrate the value of their libraries to the academy.  With the recent release of the Value of Academic Libraries: A Comprehensive Research Review and Report by Dr. Megan Oakleaf and the IMLS funded Lib-Value project, ( this Toolkit provides academic librarians with access to articles, websites, presentations, best practices, and assessment tools in one convenient home on the ACRL website.

The Toolkit highlights the increasing number of studies and resources outside of the traditional scholarly literature that focus on demonstrating and documenting the evolving practices of library assessment and evaluation. The Toolkit is intended to be used to assist academic librarians in their efforts to bring visibility to the value that academic libraries provide to their users, institutions, and communities. 

The Toolkit is developed and maintained by the ACRL Assessment Committee.  Currently in "beta," plans are underway to upgrade the website in the coming year. To recommend a resource to be considered for inclusion in the Toolkit, or for more information, please contact Joan Stein, Editor, ACRL Value of Academic Libraries  Toolkit, and Head, Access Services at Carnegie Mellon University at


Studies, Grants and Reports
White Papers and in-depth treatments
Marketing Tools and Presentations
Academic Library ROI/Value Calculators



Abram, Stephen. Value of Academic and College Libraries, Stephen’s Lighthouse: illuminating library industry trends, innovation and information. 2010.
Stephen Abram’s list of links for selected academic library value studies.

American Library AssociationArticles and Studies Related to Library Value (Return on Investment).2010.
Another selected list of links, this time for all types of libraries, related to library value and return on investment, compiled and maintained by ALA’s Office of Research and Statistics.

Association of College & Research LibrariesValue of Academic and Research Libraries.  2010.
A selected list of titles that highlights the issues involved in determining the value of academic libraries and how college and university administrators perceive value.

Fleming-May, Rachel & Crystal SherlineROI and Value Bibliography, Lib-value:  Value, outcome and Return on Investment of Academic Libraries website.
This literature review contains hundreds of items about library value that have been put into a database so the articles can be searched by subject.  This resource should be one of the first stopping places for librarians seeking information on various methods of determining the value of academic libraries.


   Studies, Grants and Reports

Association of College and Research Libraries.Value of Academic Libraries Comprehensive Research Review and Report.  Researched by Megan Oakleaf. Chicago: Association of College and Research Libraries, 2010. Published online at
The ACRL publication Value of Academic Libraries: A Comprehensive Research Review and Report is a review of the quantitative and qualitative literature, methodologies and best practices currently in place for demonstrating the value of academic libraries, developed for ACRL by Megan Oakleaf of the iSchool at Syracuse University. The primary objective of this comprehensive review is to provide academic librarians with a clearer understanding of what research about the performance of academic libraries already exists, where gaps in this research occur, and to identify the most promising best practices and measures correlated to performance. The full report, executive summary, bibliography, and supplemental resources are available online.

British Library. Measuring Our Value, Results of an Economic Impact Study Commissioned by the British Library to measure the Library’s Direct and Indirect Value to the UK Economy Report. 2004.  This study, conducted by an independent agency, uses the contingent valuation method of determining the value of the library. In commissioning this study, the British Library set out to discover both the value enjoyed directly by users of the Library, and the value enjoyed indirectly by UK citizens. In each case, the economic welfare that the British Library generates has been measured by the size of the consumer surplus, i.e. by the value gained by beneficiaries over and above any cost to them of the Library’s services - users of the Reading Rooms pay nothing, while users of the Document Supply Service pay fees for receiving documents.

Dickenson, DonHow Academic Libraries Help Faculty Teach and Students Learn, 2005 Colorado Academic Library Impact Study. February 2006.  Library Research Service & the Colorado Academic Library Consortium.  Library Research Service Academic Library Impact Study.
During the Spring of 2005, the Library Research Service (in association with the Colorado Academic Library Consortium) conducted a study about academic library usage and outcomes in order to gain a greater understanding of how these facilities help students learn, and to assess how libraries help instructors with their teaching activities and objectives. Over 3,200 undergraduate students and nearly 400 faculty members from nine Colorado colleges and universities responded to the study.  Includes data & tools.

Evidence BaseeVALUEd: an evaluation Toolkit for e-library developments. 2006.
The eVALUEd Toolkit is designed to support information services staff in higher education institutions with the evaluation of electronic information services (EIS).  This Toolkit has been developed by a research team from Evidence Base Research and Consultancy Services at Birmingham City University in the U.K.  Tabs across the top detail the sections of the website and the home page containing useful information.

Glendale Community College.  GCC Research Project on Information Competency. 2007. At GCC the Institutional Research Department and the Library, since 2000, have been conducting a long-term study to identify effective models of information competency instruction. The goals of the project are to evaluate the relationship between the library's information competency instruction and student outcomes.  The spring 2007 report summarizes the statistical evaluation of two aspects of the GCC Information Competency program: Library 191 and library workshops. In general, both aspects of the information competency program were associated with positive short-term and long-term student success.

Institute for Museum and Library Services. Lib-value: Value, outcome, and return on investment of academic libraries, URL for IMLS-funded study web page:   2010.
Lib-Value is a 3-year study, beginning December 2009, funded by a grant from IMLS that focuses on value and ROI in academic libraries. The key participating institutions are the University of Tennessee, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and the Association of Research Libraries.  Tabs along the top lead to the project description, a bibliographic database, publications and presentations, a media page, and related links.  As the study progresses, the site will contain more information.

Lance, Keith Curry and Don Dickenson. How Academic Libraries Help Faculty Teach and Students Learn: undergraduate student and faculty perceptions of libraries at nine Colorado colleges and universities.  Library Research Service, Colorado State Library, and University of Denver. 2005.
This first look at the final results of the Colorado academic library impact study compares faculty and student responses to complementary questions in their respective surveys. The faculty and student files are expanded PowerPoint files.  The survey results are linked to the website.

Research Information NetworkE-journals: their use, value, and impact.  2009.
This report takes an in-depth look at how researchers in the UK use electronic journals, the value they bring to universities and research institutions and the contribution they make to research productivity, quality and outcomes.  Contains links to the report, a briefing, and a working paper.

Society of College, National and University Libraries (SCONUL). Value and Impact (VAMP) website, 2010.
This site describes the Value and Impact Measurement Programme of the Society of College, National, and University Libraries (SCONUL) project that ran from 2006 - 2008.  It contains links to reports on their study of value and impact that contain useful information for academic libraries.

Utah State University. Assessment Reports. 2010.
This site lists a series of reports using a value-added approach recommended by the University Office of Analysis, Assessment, and Accreditation. The methodology was used to assess English composition classes. The reports linked from the page outline the information literacy/library portion of the projects.


   White Papers and In-depth Treatments

Association of Research Libraries. Special Issue on Value in Libraries: Assessing Organizational Performance Research Library Issues, no. 271, August 2010.
This issue highlights ways in which proven assessment tools have helped libraries improve their services and programs. This issue also captures some of the newer initiatives focused on demonstrating the value of library services. 

Kaufman, Paula.  December 2008.  “The Library as Strategic Investment: results of the Illinois Return on Investment study”. In Liber Quarterly, Vol. 18, Issue 3/4, pp. 424-436.
This study undertaken by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign measures the return on the university’s investment in the library using a quantitative measure that recognizes the library’s value in supporting the university’s strategic goals using grant income generated by faculty using library materials, and confirms the benefits of using e-resources and productivity impact over a 10-year period.  There is also a useful discussion of the various methods of determining value and their appropriate uses.

Luther, J.  2008.  University Investment in the library: what’s the return?  Elsevier Connect White Paper
Results of this case study at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, funded by Elsevier takes a look at developing a return on investment (ROI) model that encompasses the value of all library content and not limited to a single publisher’s product.

Tenopir, Carol, 2010.  University Investment in the Library, Phase II: An International Study of the Library’s Value to the Grants Process.  Elsevier Connect White Paper.
Paper presents the results of an international study to measure the Library’s return on investment to the grants process.  Although there are other important components to library value (i.e. time-savings and improved efficiency), ROI is an important method.



   Marketing Tools and Presentations

Aerni, Sarah & Donald King. Contingent valuation studies in public & academic libraries. PowerPoint slides. First Library Assessment Conference. 2006.
Contingent valuation is an economic method used to assess the benefits of non-priced goods and services (e.g., libraries or specific library services) by examining the implication of not having the product or service. This presentation outlines two ways contingent valuation was used to assess Pennsylvania public libraries: to determine the value of the library system to its surrounding local community; and, establish the value of a particular service. The study was conducted via telephone interviews and an in-library survey.

American Library AssociationValue of Libraries.  Wiki. 2010.
This section of the ALA Professional Tips Wiki includes links to resources on library use during economic downturns; valuation of libraries in the internet age; and ROI. Coverage includes news items and articles from trade publications. 

American University Library. The Academic Library in 2010: a vision. Report of Symposium 2010. March 2005. American University Library, Washington D.C.
This vision statement for American University Libraries covers the libraries value proposition, core competencies and responsibilities, clients, and students in 2010 as discussed at the Symposium.

Kaske, N. Turning Data into Information: details behind telling the library valuation story. Second Library Assessment Conference Workshop. 2007.
This workshop documentation outlines the process of building standard library statistics into a broader statement of library value, based on logic models, cost-benefit analysis, ROI, and Social Return on Investment (SROI) tools.

Michigan Academic Library Council. Michigan Academic Library Case Statement: 2007.
This task force of the Michigan Academic Library Council was appointed to develop a case statement highlighting the value of academic libraries to the citizens of Michigan and the ways in which they contribute to economic development, education and literacy, and effective and efficient government.  This case statement includes sections on academic libraries and economic development; academic libraries, education and literacy; academic libraries and their contributions to efficient and effective government; and academic library as place.

Walter, ScottMind the Gap: Finding the Value Proposition of your Library. PowerPoint slides. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  September, 2009.
This presentation offers a new value proposition to meaningfully communicate the impact of the library, moving beyond traditional library statistics. The new valuations cover pursuit of economies and efficiencies; alignment with campus strategic initiatives; highlighting new library services; and return on investment. Recruitment and retention, student learning, scholarly productions, and revenue generation are proposed as valuable measures for academic libraries. The presentation includes calculations used in the ROI model.


   Academic Library ROI/Value Calculators

Cornell University Libraries.  Research and Assessment Unit.  Library Value Calculations
A value calculator specific to Cornell but of use to all academic libraries.



In the Library with the Lead Pipe. “Are You Worth It? What Return on Investment Can and Can’t Tell You About Your Library” by Lown, Cory & Hilary David.  April 2009.
This blog is not restricted to postings about library value studies, return on investment, etc. but does contain several quite useful and thoughtful examinations of the topic.  It is worth reviewing the blog to find the relevant postings.

Library Assessment.infoA blog for and by librarians interested in library assessment, evaluation, and improvement supported by the Association of Research Libraries.  2010.
Although not restricted to studies of academic library value, this blog has recently carried several postings of interest in this area.  This is a good source to use for asking questions of your colleagues or seeking their opinions on a project.  It is worth reviewing the blog to find the relevant postings.