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Value Study of GLAMS (galleries, libraries, archives and museums) in Canada

“Collectively known as the GLAM sector, ours is an industry that regularly punches above its weight. Non-profit GLAMs, whether in large cities or small towns across the country, attract world-class exhibits and provide communities with essential educational and research opportunities they may not otherwise be able to access.


For too long, members of the GLAM sector have largely operated in silos. Enter the Ottawa Declaration Working Group, comprised of sector representatives and co-led by Library and Archives Canada (LAC) and the Canadian Museums Association (CMA). We now recognize the importance of working together to increase the understanding of the value of our sector. We believe this first-of-its-kind study goes a long way towards that goal.


An initiative of the Ottawa Declaration Working Group comprised of sector representatives and co-led by the Canadian Museums Association (CMA) and Library and Archives Canada (LAC), the study found that for every dollar invested in non-profit GLAMs, society gets nearly four dollars in benefits. This return is on par with government investments in transportation infrastructure projects. The study was conducted by Oxford Economics using metrics commonly employed by cultural institutions, as well as the results of a national survey of Canadians. It found users of GLAMs would be willing to pay $4 billion more per year to access them if required – a testament to the intrinsic value of GLAMs to Canadians. This is a value so great, that even non-users recognize the importance of GLAMS to society at large and to future generations. Non-users said they’d be prepared to contribute $22 per year for museums, $17 for galleries and libraries and $14 for archives as a donation towards the maintenance of these institutions. This amounts to an additional $2.2 billion per year. In all, 96% of respondents surveyed for the study said that museums contribute to our quality of life. Indeed, the study found that visiting GLAMs can be linked with improved health and wellbeing – equivalent to receiving a monetary bonus of $1,440 a year.


GLAM visits are associated with many other important societal benefits including greater literacy, curiosity, innovation, knowledge and creativity, increased rates of volunteerism and a better sense of community. These are incredibly important qualities in an increasingly divisive world. Another way for users to interact directly with GLAMs is through their official websites, online catalogues and social media pages. The study pegged the value of these online visits at $1.6 billion per year.


It also noted GLAMs generate significant educational benefits for Canada, including through school visits which provide children across the country with important learning opportunities. The value of these visits is estimated at $3.1 billion. It was further found that academic libraries contribute an additional $3.4 billion and are associated with higher student wages and income over the working lifetime of students.


In all, it is estimated that society gains nearly $8.6 billion from GLAMs’ existence every year. That is no small contribution to Canada’s economic and social prosperity. Accordingly, the preservation, promotion and development of GLAMs should be of concern not just to those of us who work in the sector, but to all Canadians.” (p.3-4)