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Study says Ottawa Public Library generated 417 per cent return on investment in 2015

_ (press release) _ OTTAWA – A recent study of the economic benefits of the Ottawa Public Library (OPL) shows that Ottawans receive $5.17 in benefits for every $1 invested in the library system.


The study concluded that the library generated $256 million in total benefits in Ottawa in 2015, a remarkable 417% return on investment. This return is comparable to other libraries in Ontario who have completed similar studies. When compared to the number of residents ($266), active library card holders ($1,038), and per hour of operation ($2,208), it is clear that OPL provides a significant benefit to the community.


“The results reinforce the OPL’s strategic vision – to build community and transform lives – by illustrating how public libraries create value over and above the initial investment,” said Tim Tierney, Chair of the Ottawa Public Library Board and Councillor for Beacon Hill – Cyrville.  “Many residents already check out the benefits from the Ottawa Public Library – and for those who don’t, we hope this entices them to check out what they are missing.”


Conducted by the OPL, the study used a methodology developed for Toronto Public Library by the Martin Prosperity Institute at the University of Toronto. It evaluated benefits created from direct interaction with programs, activities, and services, as well as indirect benefits from spending, employment, and procurement. To calculate direct benefits, OPL used market alternatives to estimate the cost to accrue the same benefit elsewhere. For indirect benefits, OPL used common economic multipliers for the library sector in Ontario.


In addition to the study, OPL developed an interactive website at http://biblioottawalibrary.ca/impact where residents can view how benefits accrue at OPL. A summary report, a full technical report, and the dataset of all data used in the study, are also available on the website.


The economic benefit study is the first part of an Economic Benefit and Social Impact Study. Phase two will explore social impacts, examining the broader impact of library services on the community in Ottawa. Phase two is anticipated to be released in 2018.