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From Cornell University Libraries: Library value calculations

Posted by Editor on December 22, 2009

We all know that maintaining a research library requires a large investment.  The annual expenditure figures of a library quantify the investment, but do not tell the whole story.

How do we quantify the other side of the story, the contributions the library makes in return to the university?  Research libraries are not used to assigning a monetary value to the use of their collections, services and expertise, although public libraries have been moving into this direction in the past few years.  Borrowing some of the methods public libraries use, RAU has calculated dollar values for some core library transactions.  This is only an illustration and is by no means an exhaustive list of the ways the library contributes to the university.  As calculating financial value is a new approach in our environment, we’d be interested in hearing your reactions and suggestions for improvement.

The bottom line: even a partial list of how CUL is used every day shows that we generate more value than how much money is expended on supporting our operations.  And we didn’t even try to include what the popular MasterCard ad would use as its punch line:

Intellectual stimulation: priceless.

Here are the figures:

It cost $56,678,222 to maintain Cornell’s 20 libraries in 2008/2009.

Includes Weill Cornell in New York City but not in Doha, Qatar.  Includes all sources of funds: appropriated, endowment income, sponsored funds….read entire post here:


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