Value of Library and Information Services in Patient Care Study

Related Studies

There are a number of active studies currently taking place throughout the country that are examining the value of libraries, the role of librarians in having an impact on patient care.

National Network of Libraries of Medicine

The NN/LM, particularly the Regional Medical Libraries, are taking an active role in research as well as developing and promoting tools that demonstrate library value.

The NN/LM MidContinental Region (NN/LM MCR) is working on value of libraries studies throughout the MidContinental Region (Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri). The research project is led by the J. Lottes Health Sciences Library at the University of Missouri Columbia. Staff for the research project consists of library staff and a consultant: the Principal Investigator, Deb Ward; Mary Ellen Sievert, Research Consultant; Dirk Burhans, and Barb Jones. The study will survey library users to establish how they use the library and how their library supports their patient care, teaching and research. There is a core set of questions which each library participating in the study will use, but the survey is flexible enough to include additional questions should the library conducting the survey wish to add them. The survey has been tested with three clinical departments at the university and with users of the state-wide MAHEC Digital Library. It will later be implemented at three hospital libraries in Missouri, the health sciences library at the University of Colorado, and three hospital libraries in Colorado.

The MidContinental Region also developed tools for health sciences library use – a Value Library Services Calculator ( adapted from the Massachusetts Library Association and then adapted for the web by Chelmsford Public Library that provides a monetary assessment of the worth of a library to an institution. Using a web-based form, libraries can enter the number of uses of a resource multiplied against the estimated cost of providing the resources to determine a value of the resource against its use. Another tool that they are offering on their web site is a Cost Benefit and ROI (return-on-investment) ( calculator, where libraries can use a web-based form to assess the benefit to the institution for the money spent on library resources.

The New England Region (NN/LM NER), the Regional Medical Library replicated the Focus Groups that NN/LM MAR held for its needs assessment of the Value of Libraries Planning Study in summer 2008. The Focus Groups asked librarians to interview hospital administrators and ask them what they valued in library services.

Independent Researchers

There are also independent researchers who are actively involved in value of libraries studies that are in process as this article is written. Beth Hill, of Kootenai Medical Center, a member of the Vital Pathways Task Force and a doctoral candidate in Education is implementing a replication of the Rochester study in critical access hospitals (rural – 25 beds or less) in the states of Washington, Alaska, Montana and Idaho (WAMI). There are 123 CAHs in the area in total and as this article is being written, Ms. Hill has reached agreement with 100 of them to distribute the survey to their active staff of physicians, physician assistants and nurse practitioners. The survey instrument includes features of the Rochester Study instrument, the University of Wales Aberystwyth survey, and the NNLM/MAR planning group’s survey.

Christine Urquhart, University of Wales, author of many studies on the value of libraries, is working with Alison Weightman in the development and refinement of the United Kingdom Value of Libraries Toolkit. 

Medical Library Association Vital Pathways for Hospital Librarians

The MLA Vital Pathways Task Force is charged to review existing data and trends in the status of hospital librarians, collect data on the links between libraries and quality and financial outcomes, and develop an action plan for MLA to use this information to influence hospital decision-makers and key leaders in the health care field.

Public Libraries - Return on Investment Studies