Tenopir, C. et. al., (2010). University Investment in the Library, Phase II: An International Study of the Library’s Value to the Grants Process. [White paper]. Retrieved from Elsevier: http://libraryconnect.elsevier.com/sites/default/files/2010-06-whitepaper-roi2_0.pdf

In this white paper, Tenopir and a group of researchers study eight institutions in eight different countries using  a model for measuring return on investment (ROI) previously established at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign in order to quantify the “library’s contributions to the institution’s income-generating functions and demonstrate the economic value of investment in the library.” Tenopir et al. provide thorough documentation of related research and models of ROI before delving into data results and analysis. There is careful emphasis that ROI in the grants process is just one measurement and “underestimates the total value of the library.” The study had six key findings:

  1. For every monetary unit invested in academic libraries, the parent institutions received a return on investment of between  0.64:1 and 15.54:1 in research grant income.
  2. In two North American universities, regression analysis using 10 years of data shows that an increase in the library budget is correlated with an increase in grant funding.
  3. Faculty survey respondents cite averages of 7.5 to 41.2 books or articles in each grant proposal they write.
  4. At least three-fourths of survey respondents state it is “important,” “very important,” or “essential” to cite references to journal articles or books in their grant proposals.
  5. Most respondents access at least half of the articles and books they cite in grant proposals, reports, and publications from their institutional library e-resource collections.
  6. Survey respondents report that they spend at least 3.5 hours per week finding and accessing articles, and at least 9.8 hours reading articles.

(Executive Summary)


Cox, B. & Jantti, M. (2012). Discovering the Impact of Library Use and Student Performance. EDUCAUSE Review 47(4). Retrieved from: http://www.educause.edu/ero/article/discovering-impact-library-use-and-student-performance.

Lacking a valid, reliable way to analyze library circulation and e-resource usage data together with student demographic and academic performance data in order to investigate library value, the University of Wollongong (UOW) Library worked with UOW’s Performance Indicators Unit to develop Library Cube, a tailored database and reporting function. Library Cube leverages UOW’s student identification number to count the number of items loaned per week and length of time spent using e-resources (based on a set of business rules built around measuring usage in 10-minute blocks, as determined by proxy log file time stamp). The system was built using standard university tools such as the library’s ILS, Oracle Data Warehouse, and Cognos, and complies with UOW’s privacy policies and principles. Though the authors recognize that Library Cube’s data do not necessarily show causality, they do observe that higher student grades strongly correlate with hours spent accessing e-resources.


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Town, S.  & Kyrillidou, M.  (2013).  Developing a values scorecard.  Performance Measurement and Metrics, 14(1), Advance online publication.

This paper discusses the history of research on library value and notes the limitations of current measurement for library value.  Future scenarios that have been proposed for libraries by ARL and SCONUL are discussed and analyzed in light of the assumed library value (and values) that are implied by these proposed scenarios.  Authors argue that libraries should try to focus on building value to match the values espoused by the likely futures for libraries outlined in the scenarios, and that value measurement will likely be of growing importance in the libraries of the future.

This article also makes a useful contribution to the literature on library value by proposing a method by which to build a value scorecard that can provide a framework for current and future value measurement.  A scorecard approach can be leveraged effectively to help measure intangible value, making it a useful tool for this line of inquiry.  Authors’ proposed scorecard comprises four areas or dimensions of value measurement for which specific measures and methodologies will need to be developed.

Those interested in examining library value through a scorecard approach will find this article extremely helpful in adapting this methodology to value-related research.


Nitecki, D. & Abels, E. (2013). Exploring the cause and effect of library value.  Performance Measurement and metrics, 14(1) Advance online publication.

This qualitative, mixed-methods study examines faculty perceptions of library value and uses the “5 Whys” protocol to explore and identify the root causes behind these perceived value effects.  The study was undertaken with a representative sample of faculty at a single institution.  Faculty interviews were conducted, followed by focus groups.  Researchers coded and triangulated the faculty responses in order to arrive at a list of the key valued factors or effects.  This study’s use of the “5 Whys” method allowed researchers to solicit factors affecting perceptions of library value, and therefore this method would be of use to other researchers seeking to delve more deeply into stakeholder perceptions of the library.

Recognizing that different stakeholder groups (such as students or administrators) are concerned with different areas of library value, this study also introduces the Library Value Wheel, a useful graphical representation of the various stakeholders groups and their associated areas of particular interest.


Soria, K., Fransen, J. & Nackerud, S. (2013). Library use and undergraduate student outcomes: new evidence for students’ retention and academic success. portal: Libraries and the Academy (forthcoming). Retrieved from: http://purl.umn.edu/143312.

This study from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities was the second of two studies investigating library service usage data collected during the fall 2011 semester (see the post below from February 15, 2013 for a list of library services considered). Authored by an Office of Institutional Research analyst and librarians, the study considered “the impact library usage has on the retention and academic success of first-time, first year undergraduate students at a large, public research university.” The authors looked at usage data in conjunction with demographic characteristics including: gender; race/ethnicity; international status; whether students had received Pell grants; were first-generation students; and whether students had served in the military. They also used ACT composite scores (or SAT scores where required), AP credits transferred, and student campus and advising experiences. Using a regression model, the study found that students who use the library had an average cumulative GPA 0.20 points higher than students who did not use the library, and that only 2.9% of students who used the library in their first semester did not return for a second semester (compared with 4.3% of students who had not used the library in their first semester who did not return). The authors made several recommendations for future research, and cited limitations in current usage data collection techniques, to suggest improved means of usage data collection for future work.


Willcoxson, L., Cotter, J. and S. Joy.  “Beyond the first-year experience: the impact on attrition of student experiences throughout undergraduate degree studies in six diverse universities.” Studies in Higher Education 36 (3): 331-352. 2011.

A two year study of six Australian universities looked into attrition and retention of undergraduate business students. A survey of seventy items was given to 5,211 students with 4,361 returning results.  Survey questions were based on a seven-point Likert scale with results grouped into five categories: commitment, expectations, support, feedback, and involvement. The researchers found a strong association between first-year student expectations of the university and their intention to leave. The second-year students reported different needs. Results indicated that commitment to courses and learning-related support influenced their decisions to leave. In the same vein, third-year students indicated that commitment was important to them, but not commitment to a course, commitment to the university as they are weighing the long-term benefits of the university’s reputation and their degree. The article offers in depth figures of the data and addresses some solutions.


Nackerud, S., Fransen, J., Peterson, K. & Mastel, K. (2013). Analyzing demographics: assessing library use across the institution. portal: Libraries and the Academy (forthcoming). Retrieved from: http://conservancy.umn.edu/handle/143309.

This study from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities investigated library service usage by individual undergraduate and graduate students, to determine: whether the library has sufficient means to measure usage for various services; whether a majority of students demonstrably use library services; whether students in different colleges use library materials and services differently; and how undergraduate library use compares to graduate student library use. Usage of the following services was investigated: loans (checkouts and renewals); ILL; digital resources (databases, ejournals, ebooks, etc.); library workstations; course-integrated instruction; Introduction to Library Research workshops; peer research consulting; online reference; and other workshops. In many, but not all cases, students authenticated using university credentials (revealing limitations in current data capture, e.g. with respect to on-campus, IP-authenticated digital resource use, face-to-face reference and some ILL requests). Results indicated that during fall 2011, 77% of undergraduates and 85% of graduate students made use of library services in a measurable way (the authors break these aggregate numbers down by level and college). Conducted by librarians with support from Office of Institutional Research staff, this study inspired its authors to ask new questions, including whether such data can inform collection development, help librarians target marketing to particular user groups, and suggest new ways to gather data and usage statistics, in order to help inform further library improvement.


Moser, M., Heisel, A., Jacob, N. & McNeill, K. (2011). A more perfect union: campus collaborations for curriculum mapping information literacy outcomes. Declaration of Interdependence: The Proceedings of the ACRL 2011 Conference, March 30-April 2, 2011, Philadelphia, PA, 330-339. Retrieved from: http://www.ala.org/acrl/files/conferences/confsandpreconfs/national/2011/papers/more_perfect_union.pdf.

This study briefly outlines an evolution in information literacy at Oxford College, a two-year division of Emory University focused on liberal arts-intensive general education, from 1980s library instruction through faculty-librarian collaboration in individual courses, to mapping information literacy standards to each course taught at Oxford College. The authors discuss how they engaged Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) practices, individual college faculty, tools such as the ACRL Information Literacy Competency Standards, Research Practices Survey created by a group of liberal arts colleges, and Oakleaf’s Information Literacy Instruction Assessment Cycle, and Oxford’s and Emory’s Institutional Research Offices and assessment management system, to identify assumptions and opportunities to improve how they work with students and faculty. Though the process of meeting with individual faculty to map outcomes across the general education curriculum proved more time-intensive than the authors had anticipated, the conversations have led to opportunities for the librarians to learn about faculty’s challenges in teaching, educate faculty about what others in other areas are doing, and gain and retain a role in broader program curriculum discussion.


Vance, J.M., Kirk, R., & Gardner, J.G. (2012). Measuring the impact of library instruction on freshman success and persistence. Communications in Information Literacy, 6(1), 49-58. Retrieved from http://www.comminfolit.org/index.php?journal=cil&page=article&op=view&path%5B%5D=v6i1p49.

Conducted at Middle Tennessee State University, this study was designed to test two hypotheses: 1) formalized librarian-led library instruction is correlated with first-to-second-year retention rates, and 2) formalized librarian-led library instruction is correlated with GPAs among first-year students. The authors analyzed records for students enrolled in course sections that had verifiably received library instruction during the fall 2008 and spring 2009 semesters. Data points included demographics (including age, gender, race and household income) and variables that represented academic preparedness (including high school GPA and ACT score). Using Ordinary Least Squares, Probit and Tobit regression models, the authors found factors that influenced students’ return for a second year (including first-year GPA and whether students enrolled in spring semester of their first year), but the study data did not provide evidence of a direct connection between library instruction and student retention. However, the study did yield a small measurable correlation between library instruction and student performance. The researchers suggested that future studies capture not just enrollment in library-instructed sections, but actual attendance, and consider not only single introductory, but compounding multiple library instruction lessons’ impact on GPAs and graduation rates over a student’s four or more years in college.

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