Does library use impact people’s sense of well-being? According to the results of a study commissioned by the United Kingdom’s Department for Culture, Media, and Sport, the answer to this question is yes. This study, conducted by the London School of Economics, examined the impacts of cultural engagement (with the arts and the library) and sports participation on well-being. Using a cost-benefits approach, it found that each of these factors positively impacted well-being, with frequent library use having an impact on well-being equivalent to receiving an annual pay raise of £1,359 (approximately $2,307).
For the data geeks out there who are curious about how the researchers estimated this monetary value, they used a method for non-market valuation called the Well-being Valuation Approach. This approach examines the impact of various non-monetary determinants of well-being (in this case, library use) and then calculates marginal rates of substitution between money and these various determinants. For example:
“if a 20% reduction in local crime rates increases [the well-being] of an individual by one index point and an increase in household income of £5,000 per year also increases [well-being] by one index point, then we would conclude that the 20% reduction in crime is worth £5,000 per year to them” (Fujiwara, Kudrna, & Dolan, 2014, p. 13).
We enjoy discovering unique approaches to estimating the library’s impact. Have you come across any interesting studies lately? Let us know by chatting with us on Twitter.
Note: This post is part of our series, “The Weekly Number.” In this series, we highlight statistics that help tell the story of the 21st-century library.