The Skills Development Team of Ontario Library Service – North has released the Valuing Northern Libraries Toolkit. Developed specifically for the unique conditions of small, rural, remote and First Nation libraries, this project was a collaborative effort among OLS-N, Dryden, Kenora, Powassan and District, Rainy River, Temiskaming Shores, and Wikwemikong First Nation public libraries, and NORDIK Institute.
The Toolkit provides an approach to measuring the benefits of the library as a public service; it is unique in that the Toolkit applies the Social Return on Investment (SROI) methodology, an emerging approach which estimates the social contribution of public services.
Dr. Gayle Broad, Research Associate at NORDIK Institute, explains, “When we start to calculate the multiple ways in which libraries contribute to individual and community well-being, economists have found that they consistently contribute much more than is expected. The concept of establishing a social return on investment for library services, and other public services, is an emerging field of study. The SROI far outweighs the dollars invested, because public services are often delivered at a minimum level to address the most severe deficits.”
This Toolkit is sure to facilitate conversations among funders and public libraries.