What price would you put on your time? That is the question Brynn Beals asked as a solo librarian at Franciscan Health System Library. She wrote the interesting article in the Journal of Hospital Librarianship, “Valuing Hospital Library Services: One Small Step for a Solo.” After attending the “Measuring Your Impact: Using Evaluation to Demonstrate Value” class at an MLA chapter meeting she decided to create an evaluation form to measure how much time and money she was saving the hospital if she did searches instead of the doctor, nurse, etc. did the search.
Using salary information from America’s Career InfoNet and Nursing Management’s 2007 compensation survey she was able to determine that the hospital saved $5914. This is based off of the information from 21 of the 61 returned surveys that had quantifiable data that allowed her to attach an hourly rate to the search. That means the hospital saved an average of $281/search question based off of her 21 questionnaires.
At first blush $5914 is not a lot of money nor does it completely offset the cost of running a library or the true savings a library can provide a hospital if it health care personnel conducted their own research without a librarian. However, it is just a small sampling of the savings a librarian can bring to a hospital. Imagine the savings if all 61 of the questionnaires had quantifiable data. Imagine if all 105 of her distributed surveys were returned with quantifiable data. The overall hospital savings would go up.
Beals survey just focused on the amount of time/money saved and how the information was used (change diagnosis, policy development, CE, patient education, etc.). Just think if we could add a few more layers to the study and find out the savings hospitals can realize by acquiring documents through Docline instead of outside document delivery services, or having a library journal subscription instead of multiple departmental subscriptions. These are just some of my limited ideas of how one could expand this study. I am sure there are more things to look at.
Jenny Garcia recently queried the MEDLIB-L community about doing a research project studying hospitals that do not have a library. Her question to the community was, “If you could have only one answerable question about hospitals without libraries, what would it be?” I am sure the MEDLIB-L community will give her plenty of ideas.
While Beals study and Garcia’s planned study are technically different they both look at the value of libraries and librarians within hospitals. We need more of these studies. We need studies similar to Beals that are easily reproducible for smaller hospital librarians and we need larger impact studies that survey several hospitals that Garcia is thinking of conducting so that we can illustrate the broader picture.