OVERLAND PARK — Researchers at KU Edwards Campus are crunching numbers and conducting focus groups with assistance from Johnson County Library staff to measure the county’s return on every dollar invested in its library system.
The nine-month study, scheduled for publication in the fall, identifies and analyzes direct and indirect benefits to residents and the business community at large. The partnership is one of the first in KU Edwards Campus’ engaged scholarship initiative, a research collaboration between the university and community groups for direct public benefit.
“Partnering with the Johnson County Library is an opportunity for the campus to lend valuable research expertise to an important community asset,” said Dave Cook, KU Edwards Campus vice chancellor. “Working with the community is part of our core values, and this partnership enhances the public service mission of both organizations.”
Alfred Ho, associate professor in KU’s School of Public Affairs & Administration, is leading the project with a team of faculty, staff and student researchers. Returns will be grouped into three categories:
- The market value of library products and services like meeting spaces and materials
- The economic benefits of library activities like employment and construction and how that activity ripples through the local economy
- The quality of life enjoyed by all residents as a result of Johnson County’s education and employer appeal. Residents will be asked to place a monetary value on these benefits through focus groups and surveys
“Like any public institution, we feel a strong responsibility to demonstrate a return on the investment county residents have made in us,” said Sean Casserley, county librarian. “KU Edwards Campus’ findings will help shed light on the less obvious impact Johnson County Library has on every individual and organization who calls the county home.”
About the University of Kansas Edwards Campus
The KU Edwards Campus at 127th Street and Quivira Road in Overland Park brings high-quality academic programs, research and public-service benefits of KU to the Greater Kansas City community in order to serve the workforce, economic and community development needs of region.
About Johnson County Library
Through its 13 countywide locations and online resources, Johnson County Library provides access to ideas, information, experiences and materials that support and enrich people’s lives. The Library is supported by ad valorem taxes, Friends of Johnson County Library book sales and by philanthropic efforts via the Johnson County Library Foundation.