Australian Study Highlights Big Bang for the Buck of Law Libraries

A number of Australian library associations including the Australian Law Library Association released a study earlier this month that highlights the big 5-to-1 bang for the buck from resources invested in government, law firm and organizational libraries.

In fact, every one dollar investment in special libraries such as law firm libraries brings 5.43 dollars in return to their organization, according to the study commissioned by the associations.

From the press release:

“ALIA [Australian Library and Information Association] Executive Director Sue McKerracher said, ‘Working in the library and information sector, we all recognise the value of special libraries. What is exciting about this report is that an independent firm of economists has been able to put a figure on the value—and that figure is five times the original investment’. ”

“The indicative finding of $5.43 for every $1 invested is likely to be even higher. SGS [the firm commissioned to write the study] assessed the benefits provided directly to special library users, including time saved and value of ‘out-of-pocket’ expenses such as journal subscriptions. However, the user focus of the study omitted the return on investment in terms of client outcomes, and SGS said ‘it is highly likely that the benefits of industry libraries outweigh their costs considerably’.”

This, of course, is not the first such study.

In 2013, the Minnesota Department of Transportation conducted a study of the return on investment of its library.

The document should be of interest to all law librarians.

“While an abundance of research is available for the ROI of public and academic libraries, practically no valuation studies have been performed on special libraries such as the MnDOT Library. Our study included an extensive literature review, personal interviews with nationally-recognized experts on academic library valuation, and a MnDOT staff survey on library services (…)”

“As we worked through the process of determining the library’s value to MnDOT, it became apparent that the library produces two types of ROI: tangible and intangible. The Tangible ROI was calculated from dollars and time saved (…)”

“Intangible ROI refers to things we cannot measure, such as the value library-supplied standards and specifications bring to MnDOT’s construction projects, or, what is the value of knowledge gained through the reading of materials supplied by the library to MnDOT’s projects, initiatives, and decision-making. Based on customer feedback, the Intangible Value returned to MnDOT is significant.”

Law librarians who are thinking of establishing the ROI of their library will find the Minnesota study’s extensive bibliography particularly useful.’s Susannah Tredwell also tackled the issue in her August 27, 2013 article on this site Measuring the Performance of Law Firm Libraries.


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