About the Project


Despite consistent usage, 21st-century libraries are regularly under pressure to defend and justify their existence to various entities, including administrators, policymakers, legislators, and community citizens. One common approach is to develop quantifiable measures that communicate library value, like calculators that demonstrate savings achieved through the use of library collections and services, such as this one from the American Library Association (ALA).

However, many of these value calculations only consider resources and collections, rather than the labor needed to make those resources accessible. Our calculator attempts to surface the previously invisible yet important work of librarians by quantifying the cost of expert labor and including it in these value calculations in a highly visible way. 

Our goals:

  • Visibilize the amount and diverse types of labor performed by librarians and library workers
  • Reinforce the idea that libraries are more than just collections of materials
  • Help libraries better advocate for increased support, especially for staffing

Revealing invisible librarian labor can potentially offer an improved way to communicate the true value of libraries, which rests not in information resources themselves, but in the people who ensure access to and understanding of those resources. Such increased awareness also contributes to an overarching goal of increased advocacy and support for libraries in the 21st century.