This week, Elsevier, publisher of scientific, technical and medical information products and solutions, announced the results of an international study that demonstrates the value of the academic library to the institution in improving grant proposal and report writing as well as in helping researchers attract grant income. A first phase of the study was conducted as a pilot with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2008. In the pilot, a model for calculating a return-on-investment (ROI) ratio was developed. Phase 2 (results announced Monday) replicated and then refined the original model. “The results reinforce the contribution of libraries and information to the research enterprise,” notes Chrysanne Lowe, Elsevier’s Vice President of Customer Development and Engagement. “Universities have always known this, but it’s useful to see value articulated in terms of grant income ROI as well.”
Dr. Tenopir and Paula Kaufman, Dean of Libraries at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, are currently leading a team on a third phase of the study funded through a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (“Lib-Value,” grant number LG-06-09-0152-09). This next phase will look at ways to measure the value, outcomes, and ROI for the full range of library products and services. The library’s contributions to functional areas of teaching and learning, research, and socialization will be identified and presented as a series of tools, reports, and literature reviews. “Return on investment in the grants process is one important and convenient way to quantify the value of the academic library, but it underestimates the total value of the library to the university,” says Dr. Tenopir.