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2004 EPA Report Concluded Libraries had Great ROI

The Government Printing Office recently posted a small sample of EPA documents harvested from the EPA web. I’m not writing about this effort today, but so far it looks promising and I commend GPO for sharing part of the results with the community. There will be more about this later.

Today I’m writing about one of the fruits of their web harvesting. One of the reports that GPO pulled and I hope is eventually widely distributed in print is:

Business case for information services : EPA’s regional libraries and information centers
by United States. Office of Environmental Information.;  United States. Environmental Protection Agency. National Library Network.
EPA 260-R-04-001, Published January 2004

Because I’m uncertain what will happen to the current GPO page once the pilot is finished, I’ve elected to post this report to the Internet Archive at http://www.archive.org/details/BusinessCaseForInformationServicesEpasRegionalLibrariesAndCenters.

What really impressed me about this report, which might have been mentioned before, is how the authors found a strong financial benefit to EPA running regional libraries. Here is their Executive Summary (bolding mine):

The Environmental Protection Agency?s network of regional libraries and environmental center libraries provides substantial value to the Agency, its professional staff, stakeholders, and the public. Calculated conservatively, the benefit-to-cost ratio for EPA library services ranges between 2:1 and 5.7:1. Libraries and librarians are nonetheless a significant investment, costing the Agency roughly $6.2 million annually to operate and maintain. It is an opportune time to initiate an Agency-wide dialog on the extent and nature of library services at the Environmental Protection Agency.


The rest of this 24 page report basically expands on these findings. Unsurprisingly, time as well as money were saved. According to a table at page 16 of the PDF file, 2003 reference for EPA staff saved the agency over 16,000 hours and over 14,000 hours in serving external users.

So, speaking conservatively, keeping the EPA libraries open provide $2 of benefits for every dollar spent on the libraries PLUS freed up over 30,000 hours a year that EPA staff could spend on other tasks. Makes you wonder why the agency chose to close the libraries anyway.

According to Open WorldCat, there is only one paper copy of this report in the nation’s libraries. Hopefully some of you will change that.

CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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