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Value and ROI Comprehensive Study: Syracuse


The purpose of this method is to measure the economic, environmental, and social value of the academic library.  It is a comprehensive study in that it takes a holistic view of the library services.

Academic libraries. These surveys and calculations based on survey responses can be used at other institutions.

The goals of this project are to measure the economic, environmental, and social benefit to faculty and students, the cost, and to calculate the return on investment of an  academic library.

Bruce Kingma, Syracuse University

A survey was deployed in 2010-11 at Syracuse University. SU faculty and students were asked the frequency of use and contingent valuation of their use of the Syracuse University academic library services.  Student surveys were deployed in over 100 courses. Faculty were surveyed both online and with a paper survey delivered by campus mail. Survey responses were weighted to correct for response bias for gender and academic discipline responses. Average values for key benefit values were used to calculate the economic and environmental benefit and return on investment.

Key variables:
Contingent valuation for use of services
Cost of transportation to and from library
Environmental value of the library
Total annual cost and return on investment of the  Library
The economic return on investment is calculated as the total annual monetary and time value to faculty and students of using the academic library divided by the total annual cost.  The economic and environmental return on investment sums the economic value and the environmental value of use (as described above) and divides by the total annual cost of the academic library.

It can be challenging to do a contingent value library survey correctly.  Survey responses should be corrected for differences between responses and population.  The original study employed gender and academic discipline weights to correct for response bias.

Resources required:

  • Time: Each survey takes 10 hours to develop and 10+ hours to deploy over a 2-4 week period.
  • People: deploying surveys in-class requires faculty assistance. Survey review, deployment, and data analysis takes 50-100 hours.
  • Level of Effort (low/med/high): This requires a high level of resources in deployment and analysis.

Syracuse University

Key findings/details:
See final report.

Faculty Use and Readership Survey
Graduate Student Use and Readership Survey
Undergraduate Student Use and Readership Survey