Collection of Phase 1 studies
During META 2 Phase One, searches for literature related to public library value published between January 2013 and April 2019 were conducted in Google, Google Scholar, and a broad range of academic databases. Expanding on the original META project, qualitative studies of public library value were included in the search results. Combined with “library” or “public library,” search terms included full and truncated versions of terms and phrases including, but not limited to, “value,” “economic value,” “impact,” “return on investment,” “ROI,” “contingent valuation,” “willingness to pay,” “WTP,” “WTA,” and “outcome.” Citations were reviewed for additional studies that might be pertinent to these topics. The results of the Phase On document searches appear in the META 2 Research Bibliography.
Each document included in the META 2 Research Bibliography was reviewed for suitability for subsequent analysis using the following initial criteria: 1) the document presented a research study related to public library value, 2) the document included a description of the methodology used to develop measurements of public library value, and 3) the results of the study were sufficiently standardized and detailed to be comparable to other studies. The eighty-one (81) studies related to public library valuation published between January 2013 and April 2019 in the META 2 were subsequently added to the Research Study Database.
META 2 Phase Two consisted of three steps: (1) file preparation, (2) analysis, and (3) triangulation. During data construction, the South Carolina cost-benefit algorithm was applied to the IMLS Public Libraries Survey (PLS) state summary datasets for 2012 through 2017. Select demographic data provided by the USDA Rural Atlas (2019), including poverty indicators, were added to the 2017 IMLS State Summary file. During step two, a fixed effects non-parametric meta-analysis approach replicating the original META 1 project was used to determine whether recent IMLS Public Libraries Survey (PLS) data provided mounting evidence that public libraries contribute to the economic prosperity of the communities they serve. During the third step, a random effects meta-analysis model was implemented to triangulate public library benefit estimates with the META 1 results as well as with the 2019 META 2 Phase One results. These steps were then repeated using an updated cost-benefit algorithm and extended to include 2019 and 2020 data.
Phase 3 employed an informal approach intended to look at value from the user perspective. An oral history format was chosen based on its ability to shine light on the everyday experiences. Two regions were selected for exploratory observation based on strong 2020 performance. Participants were suggested and contacted by local library Directors and community members, and as such comprised a self-selected convenience sample. Conversations were guided using constructs drawn from the OECD Better Life Index the ongoing National Impact of Library Public Programs Assessment Project .