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Carol Tenopir
Carol Tenopir

KNOXVILLE — A $1 million grant to study the value of academic libraries to students, faculty, policymakers, funders and others has been awarded by Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, in collaboration with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Libraries and the Association of Research Libraries (ARL).

Carol Tenopir, a professor in the School of Information Sciences, is the lead investigator on the project. Former UT Dean of Libraries Paula Kaufman, now university librarian and dean of libraries at the University of Illinois, is a co-principal investigator; and Martha Kyrillidou, senior director for statistics and service quality programs, is leading the project from ARL.

The three-year grant, entitled “Value, Outcomes, and Return on Investment of Academic Libraries (Lib-Value),” will work to enrich, expand, test and implement methodologies measuring the return on investment (ROI) in academic libraries.

“There is an increasing need for academic librarians to demonstrate the return on investment and value of the library to the various stakeholders of the institution and to guide library management in the redirection of library funds to important products and services for the future,” Tenopir said.

Academic libraries actively participate in the many changes in scholarship, such as the move to e-science, collaborative and participatory scholarship, and focus on new materials such as data, multimedia and born-digital assets, Tenopir said. To remain relevant and central to the academic mission in the future, academic librarians need to be able to demonstrate the value that the academic library provides to the campus community using proven methods of measurement that will allow librarians to determine where their efforts should be concentrated and how funding should be allocated.

The results of the study will provide evidence and a set of tested methodologies and tools to help academic librarians demonstrate how the academic library provides value to its constituents and ROI to its funders, and to measure which products and services are of most value to enhancing the university’s mission. This project will greatly expand upon earlier studies to consider multiple measures of value that the academic library brings to teaching/learning, research, and social/professional/public engagement functions of the academic institution.

To ensure that the process will be rigorous, realistic and highly visible in the academic library and university community, an experienced team of academic librarians and outstanding researchers will bring their leadership to the project. Two well-known researchers in the library field will serve as consultants: Bruce Kingma, an economist at Syracuse University, and Donald W. King, a statistician at the University of North Carolina at Chapel-Hill. Additional project participants include: Gayle Baker, Ken Wise, Rachel Fleming-May, Regina Mays, Crystal Sherline, and Andrea Baer of UT Knoxville; Tina Chrzastowski of the University of Illinois; and Henry Gross, Gary Roebuck and David Green of ARL.

The project is also engaging an advisory committee of noted information science researchers: José-Marie Griffiths of UNC-Chapel Hill, and Michael Koenig of Long Island University; academic library directors Carol Mandel of New York University, and Colleen Cook of Texas A&M; consultants Judy Luther and Joseph Matthews; and economists George Deltas of the University of Illinois, and Nicolas Flores of University of Colorado.

ARL is a nonprofit organization of 124 research libraries in North America. Its mission is to influence the changing environment of scholarly communication and the public policies that affect research libraries and the diverse communities they serve. ARL is on the Web at

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has long ranked among the nation’s most distinguished teaching and research institutions. Its diverse, world-class programs reflect the mission of a comprehensive, land-grant university. The largest public university in Illinois, the campus was chartered by the state in 1867 as the Illinois Industrial University and opened its doors to students in 1868. For more information about the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, please visit

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