Describing and measuring the value of public libraries: The growth of the Internet and the evolution of library value

  • Paul T. Jaeger University of Maryland
  • John Carlo Bertot University of Maryland
  • Christine M. Kodama University of Maryland
  • Sarah M. Katz University of Maryland
  • Elizabeth J. DeCoster University of Maryland
Keywords: Value, Economic impact, Evaluation

Abstract

In the current economic climate, public libraries find themselves in the position of defending and justifying their funding and continued existence to their stakeholders. Many of these public libraries seek to prove their worth to their community through the use of different measurements and metrics to demonstrate quantifiable contributions and different understandings of the concept of value as part of showing a contribution. As libraries need to justify their value to policymakers, library usage is skyrocketing, begging the question: how can public libraries effectively demonstrate their value as critical social institutions to the communities that they serve and the policy-makers that allocate their funding? By examining varied concepts of value, this paper explores different understandings of public libraries as places and their contributions to society. The paper also discusses various approaches public libraries have taken to illustrate, articulate, and demonstrate their value. After detailing several value demonstration approaches that public libraries are taking currently or could take, this paper discusses the implications of value demonstration approaches for libraries in social and policy contexts.

Author Biographies

Paul T. Jaeger, University of Maryland
Paul T. Jaeger is Assistant Professor and Co-Director of the Information Access & Policy Center in the College of Information Studies at the University of Maryland College Park
John Carlo Bertot, University of Maryland
John Carlo Bertot is Professor and Co-Director of the Information Access & Policy Center in the College of Information Studies at the University of Maryland College Park
Christine M. Kodama, University of Maryland
Christie M. Kodama is a Graduate Research Associate in the Information Access & Policy Center in the College of Information Studies at the University of Maryland College Park
Sarah M. Katz, University of Maryland
Sarah M. Katz is a Graduate Research Associate in the Information Access & Policy Center in the College of Information Studies at the University of Maryland College Park
Elizabeth J. DeCoster, University of Maryland
Elizabth J. DeCoster is a Graduate Research Associate in the Information Access & Policy Center in the College of Information Studies at the University of Maryland College Park
Published
2011-10-28
How to Cite
Jaeger, P. T., Bertot, J. C., Kodama, C. M., Katz, S. M., & DeCoster, E. J. (2011). Describing and measuring the value of public libraries: The growth of the Internet and the evolution of library value. First Monday, 16(11). https://doi.org/10.5210/fm.v16i11.3765