ER&L: ROI — Why oh why?

Speaker: Doralyn Rossman

How to use a combination of qualitative and quantitative data to tell a story.

ROI is a hot topic. People outside of the library are aware of it. Comparing yourself to other libraries is challenging because your missions are different. Showing how you contribute to the mission of your institution is much more valuable.

Methods of assessment: ROI, use, impact, alternative comparison (lib versus other service), customer satisfaction & outcomes, and commodity production (services, facilities, resources).

When you tell your story, start at the top: strategic plan, accreditation, etc. Give administrators information in the language they need to share with others. What do they need to know that they don’t know they need to know? What do they not want to know?

There are plenty of examples out there — do your homework.

Quantitative metrics: COUNTER, simultaneous users, multiple-year deals, capped inflation, staffing & workflows, reference queries, instruction sessions, citation reports & impact factor of collection, cost if purchased individually.

Qualitative metrics: relevance to curriculum, formatting efficiencies, user self-sufficiency, condition and usabilty of collection, proactive trouble shooting, MINES protocol from ARL.

Story: cost avoidance for users, reduced cost of course materials, quick access to research materials for faculty and grant work, attracting and retaining faculty/students, what would you do if they library didn’t exist, contribution to the strategic plan.

Example: University of Tennessee surveyed faculty about their grant proposal process. They found that faculty used more materials and resources than what was reflected in the proposals themselves. There is an importance of library resources at all stages in the grant process and publishing process.

LIBvalue project is a good resource. It’s generated by an IMLS grant following up on the ROI research at various institutions. Recommended reading.

If you’re not already collecting data, start now. You want a long-term study. Build it into your routines so you do it on a regular basis.

There are no cookie cutter methods. You have to know what story you want to tell, and then find the data to do that. Each situation/institution will be unique.

From the audience: Sense Maker is a good tool for capturing qualitative data.

ER&L 2010: Electronic Access and Research Efficiencies – Some Preliminary Findings from the U of TN Library’s ROI Analysis

Speaker: Gayle Baker, University of Tennessee – Knoxville

Phase one: Demonstrate the role of the library information in generating research grand incomes for the institution (i.e. the university spends X amount of money on the library which generates X amount of money in grant research and support).

To do this, they sent out emails to faculty with surveys that included incentives to respond (quantitative and qualitative questions). They gathered university-supplied data about grant proposals and income, and included library budget information. They also interviewed administrators to get a better picture of the priorities of the university.

UIUC’s model: Faculty with grant proposals using the library times the percentage of award success rate times the average grant income, then multiplied that by the grants expended and divided by the total library budget. The end result was that the model showed $4.38 grant income for every dollar invested in the library.

Phase two: Started by testing UIUC’s methodology across eight institutions in eight countries. Speaker didn’t elaborate, but went on to describe the survey they used and examples of survey responses. Interesting, but hard to convey relevance in this format, particularly since it’s so dependent on individual institutions. (On the up side, she has amusing anecdotes.) They used the ROI formula suggested by Carol Tenopir, which is slightly different than described above.

Phase three: IMLS grant for the next three years, headed by Tenopir and Paula Kaufman, and ARL and Syracuse will also be involved. They are trying to put a dollar value on things that are hard to do, such as student retention and success.