‘Although research libraries are generally highly valued by their customers, the value that they add to their parent institutions and to the wider UK economy is often poorly understood and difficult to measure.  RLUK will work with cognate agencies to maximise the use of existing management information, for example in benchmarking, and to develop new tools to enable research libraries to demonstrate more effectively the contribution that they make to institutional success.’

– RLUK Strategic Plan

RLUK has undertaken a systematic study of the value of the services that libraries in the UK provide to researchers to enable libraries to demonstrate more effectively the contributions they make to institutional performance.

Demonstrating value final reports:

‘The Value of Libraries for Research and Researchers’ a jointly commissioned project from RLUK and RIN.

‘RLUK Library Trends’ and ‘RLUK Student Satisfaction and Library Provision’ CIBER reports commissioned by RLUK

The Value of Libraries for Research and Researchers

This jointly commissioned RLUK and RIN report presents the findings of a systematic study of the value of the services that libraries in the UK provide to researchers, and of the contributions that libraries from a wide range of institutions make to institutional research performance. The aim of the report was to identify the key characteristics of library provision to support research in successful UK universities and departments. Libraries have changed and are changing, developing new roles and services. The findings are summarised in the form of map which sets out the key characteristics and behaviours of libraries, and the links between them and the performance of individual researchers and institutions. The detailed findings are thus presented in the form of ten stories – summarised in the map – about the different kinds of value that libraries provide in supporting both individual researchers and the research performance of their host institutions.

The fieldwork and data analysis were undertaken by Curtis+Cartwright Consulting Limited, in partnership with the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) and Professor Charles Oppenheim, University of Loughborough

RLUK Library Trends

RLUK Library Trends: Data from Sconul, the Association of Research Libraries, LibQual, the International Student Barometer. This report is a CIBER working paper for RLUK.

The first section of the report looks at trends in use and library productivity between 2003 and 2009. The second section compares aspects of the performance of RLUK libraries with the North American ARL libraries, to provide an element of international comparison.

Findings from the report:

  • Opening hours in RLUK libraries have risen by 22 per cent over the period reported.
  • RLUK Library staff productivity, as indicated by a 28 per cent increase in the ratio of user FTE to each library post, has increased very significantly: libraries are doing more with relatively fewer staff.
  • In comparison with similar institutions in the US (ARL members), RLUK libraries do much more with fewer staff. In 2007/8, for example, the average number of students per FTE library staff members was 86 among ARL members and 110 among RLUK members
  • Expenditure per user on information is much higher in ARL libraries. The figure for 2008 is £533 per FTE in ARL libraries, compared to £317 in UK libraries
  • It shows increase in use in many areas, improved availability of services and a gratifying increase in our productivity.

The report  also provides an interesting comparison of the SCONUL statistics against the ARL equivalents.

RLUK Student Satisfaction and Library Provision

This report, carried out by CIBER for Research Libraries UK, examines the link between a range of statistical indicators for RLUK libraries and student satisfaction. Most of the analysis is based upon data from the National Student Survey and the SCONUL annual library statistics. A number of interesting correlations emerge from the analysis – some predictable, some less so – including:

  • In the 22 questions asked by the National Student Survey, library provision attracts the third highest positive score on average. In the 21 questions asked by the Times Higher Education Survey, library provision attracts the second highest score.
  • Library satisfaction is strongly correlated with institutional size.
  • The strongest predictors of overall library satisfaction, after institutional size are the percentage of library staff who are professionally qualified, followed by the level of library spending.
  • There is a small, but statistically very significant, link between satisfaction with library provision and overall course satisfaction.
  • The strongest library predictors of overall course satisfaction were staff hours spent in (library) training per student FTE and annual loans per FTE user.
  • In terms of mission group, satisfaction with libraries is highest in the Russell Group, followed by the Million + Group, then the 94 Group.

RLUK Student Satisfactions and Library Provision report


Top image courtesy of Queen Mary, University of London Library