National welfare and economic contribution of Australian public libraries

Economics Libraries Australia


On behalf of a consortium of state and territory libraries, the Australia Library and Information Association (ALIA) commissioned SGS Economics and Planning Pty Ltd (SGS) to generate estimates of the contributions that public libraries make to Australian community welfare and Australian economic activity.

To do this, SGS applied the same methodological principles that were adopted in recent Victorian and Queensland studies, which were based on two separate measurement frameworks:

The net contribution public libraries make to community welfare. This contribution i smeasured by subtracting the costs of library service provision from the community benefits provided; with the community benefits assessed using three separate measurement techniques (i.e. financial savings, travel costs and contingent valuation methods).

The economic activity induced in the economy by public library operations. This is a process of isolating the economic stimuli that public libraries introduce into the economy, and tracing how these stimuli culminate in economic activity in buyer and supplier industries through successive rounds of economic transactions.

It is important to note that the results generated by these assessment frameworks are not cumulative, i.e. they cannot be added together. They answer two different questions, with the first telling us if libraries are good value investments, and the second telling us how much economic activity libraries generate through operations.


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