Australian Healthcare Orgs Gain $9 for Every $1 Spent on Their Health Libraries

(Special thanks for Julia Esparza for her email directing me to this.)

Check out this cool infographic from the Australian Library and Information Association and Health Libraries Inc.  Basically it states that despite having budgets, staff and space cuts health science libraries provide $9 of benefit to their healthcare orgs for every $1 spent on them.

This infographic is part of a study conducted by Health Libraries Inc (HLInc) and Health Libraries Australia (ALIA HLA, a national group of the Australian Library and Information Association).

“The partners commissioned award-winning firm SGS Economics and Planning to survey health libraries across the nation and from this to assess the return on the annual investment in these services to their organisations.

The results provide a snapshot of the continued outstanding value of health libraries against a backdrop of significantly greater usage but declining investment. Patient and medical staff numbers and hospital expenditure are increasing, while health library budgets, space and staffing levels are decreasing.”

To view the full report, please click here. You can also find the SGS report here.

There are lots of very cool things in the infographic but the one that really stands out to me is at the bottom (unfortunately). It says, “The investment in these services (library) is just 0.1% of the recurrent expenditure in Australian hospitals.”

IMHO that information is HUGE.  Why are hospitals cutting such a SMALL percentage of their recurrent budget when it provides a healthy return on investment!?

One of the reasons I think this is happening is because we need to do this kind of study on a local level.  Hospital librarians need to figure out how we can show this information to our administration and also show how we are helping with their bottom line DESPITE our cuts.

While I think this is information is important, I don’t think running up to your administrator showing him this infographic (or emailing it to him/her) is going to help.  Administration has the mind set of, “What have YOU done for me lately?”  They will see this infographic and think “how nice for Australia, but what about our hospital?”  How are you helping your specific hospital with costs and patient care?  Please don’t answer them with the phrase, “I provide doctors and nurses with information.”

That is all fine and dandy but that answer doesn’t specifically detail how you are helping the hospital with costs and patient care.  Numbers matter to them.  Hospital librarians need to do these studies on a much smaller level in their own institutions. We need our own local numbers telling administration that we helped our OWN caregivers change their thinking and improve their diagnosis or treatment plan X%.

That is what matters to our administration.

Hospital librarians…we need to do our own research studies to survive. The research doesn’t have to publishable in a library journal but it has to be given to administration and make sense to them.  Heather Homes calls it the “small r research.”  It is research that doesn’t take a year or more to complete, it is specific to your department and institution, and it is what administration finds important.  All of these things run contrary to big R research. Big R research takes several years to complete, applies to libraries as whole, and is of interest to other librarians.  The little r research is about your job, the big R research is about the career of librarianship.

So lets start to deconstruct these great big R research projects like the Marshall study and this one from Australia so we can see how we can apply them for our own small r research in our institutions and in our jobs.

Who’s with me?!

3 thoughts on “Australian Healthcare Orgs Gain $9 for Every $1 Spent on Their Health Libraries”

  1. Have to agree that you’ve hit the nail on the head, Krafty – we know we add value every day, but the management only see the outgoings as a dollar value on a spreadsheet. I would love to conduct a local form of research, if only I can hold on to my job long enough…

  2. Krafty – you are so right. We have done a similar small study – and have had great feedback. We have used the Marshall study to guide or questions. We are now in a revamp of this small survey – to get even more data.

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