Getting to the ROI of internet libraries

In order to demonstrate value librarians must be willing to employ ROI methodologies and back up their claims with data says Marydee Ojala.

Proving our worth

The value proposition for libraries and the information professionals who staff them has changed. It's no longer a given that libraries are worthwhile. Instead, librarians need ammunition to prove to their management - whether that's a municipal government, a university department, a law firm's partners, or corporate C-suite occupants - that the library and information department contributes significantly to the overall goals of the enterprise.

ROI (Return on Investment or, possibly, Return on Information) is one way to approach this.

At Internet Librarian International, along with Graham Coult, I will be looking at how librarians can employ ROI methodology to prove their value, look at numbers strategically, and find new ways to deliver information and answers to their clientele.

In our conference session (B204, on Wednesday afternoon,) Graham will discuss techniques for becoming actively involved with ROI.  I will share insights on data sets and their impact on library services. It is our contention that demonstrating and delivering on ROI shows the value information professionals bring to the bottom line. By understanding and implementing service enhancements, librarians can change how management views their operations. Enhancements might include such things as augmented reality and increased emphasis on social media. Certainly, the rise in mobile device usage alters how we deliver information.

Another new frontier is data sets. Increasingly, data-gathering organisations are liberating their data, big data is being text mined, and supplemental material is entering institutional repositories. This is both a challenge and a huge opportunity for information professionals. There are numbers that are solid and say exactly what they mean, but others are wide open to interpretation-and misinterpretation. Making sure you understand your numbers and that you can both explain and evaluate them is a key skill in today's "justify your existence" environment.

Did I mention this won't be a dull as ditchwater, mind-numbing session all about numbers? We promise some fun, some active participation from the delegates and a few tasty prizes. It is Halloween, after all. In between the fun, you'll learn something about new measures for ROI and gain an appreciation for the numeric world. Thinking of leaving Internet Librarian Internet early? You might want to reconsider. This session is going to be too enjoyable to pass up.

Marydee Ojala edits ONLINE: Exploring Technology & Resources for Information Professionals and is a frequent speaker at international conferences such as Internet Librarian International

Image courtesy of 401K (2012) via Flickr.