Valuing Northern Libraries Toolkit
“Is your library board looking for a new way to communicate library value to your stakeholders?
Ontario Library Service – North (OLS – North) contracted NORDIK Institute to create a measurement tool to illustrate the value of libraries in rural, Northern, First Nation, and francophone communities. A steering committee consisting of the CEOs of the six pilot communities participated in identifying the measurement topics, the design and testing of the tool.
The Toolkit and Resources
This tool is designed to measure the value of public libraries and their role as community hubs, building capacity for healthy, resilient people and places, especially in rural, Northern, First Nation and francophone communities. The toolkit provides a step-by-step process to assess libraries’ social return on investment (SROI) within a holistic, cross-sectoral framework. The Social Return on Investment (SROI) is a term describing the social impact of a business or non-profit’s operations in dollar terms, relative to the investment required to create that impact and exclusive of its financial return to investors.
Based on a review of relevant literature, focus groups, consultation with steering committee members and site visits, NORDIK designed a measurement toolkit to encompass the many diverse and unique roles that public libraries play in the North as community hubs.
This framework identifies seven areas where libraries contribute to building individual, organizational, and community level capacity.
- Cultural Integrity & Regional Identity
- Social Inclusion
- Cognitive & Literacy Development
- Health & Wellness
- Engaged Citizens & Safer Communities
- Entertainment & Enjoyment
- Economic Development
An indicator is a quantifiable measure used to monitor progress or impact in a given area or sector. In collaboration with the pilot sites, three indicators were chosen that best reflect how libraries’ operations and expenditures contribute to each respective area. The same number of indicators is measured in each of the seven sectors for the purpose of demonstrating the equivalent value of each sector in the overall economic benefit and calculation of its Social Return on Investment.
While many of the services and activities of the libraries could arguably demonstrate benefits in multiple sectors assessed by the measurement tool, this study has relied on the preferences of the pilot sites to identify the placement of indicators most appropriate to each of the seven sectors. The indicators have been selected based on data that is collected by all libraries, or alternatively, can be easily collected during the ‘typical week’ usage survey.
Each library builds a unique mix of resources—collections, programming, services, etc. in response to community needs, enabling diverse people to improve their quality of life and to participate in the life of the community in meaningful ways. In many instances, libraries demonstrate leadership by promoting services that are otherwise non-existent, under developed or under serviced. The library value toolkit can be used in all of Ontario’s small and rural communities to demonstrate how the library contributes to individual, organizational, and community capacity.
SROI Indicator Template (the library value calculation spreadsheet)
The SROI Indicator Template will require some of the data submitted for the 2017 Annual Survey of Public Libraries, the Typical Week Survey, plus other commonly collected information.
Download the template and sample reports:
- The SROI Indicator Template
- Community Report Template
- Sample Community Report
- Sample Completed Indicator Template
COMING SOON – The Valuing Northern Libraries Toolkit online course will be made available on LearnHQ for Ontario public libraries to access.
Other Library Value Projects
Here is a sampling of public library value projects conducted in the past decade:
Dryden Public Library
Kenora Public Library
Powassan and District Union Public Library
Rainy River Public Library
Temiskaming Shores Public Library
Wikwemikong First Nation Public Library
For more information, please contact:
800-461-6348 ext. 505″