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Value and costs of Canadian galleries, libraries, archives, and museums 2019

A 2019 study focused on the costs and value of galleries, libraries, archives, and museums (GLAMs) in Canada. Alongside calculating operating costs and benefits of these institutions, the study also estimated the non-use value, namely the potential revenue coming from people that value such organizations, regardless of if they visit them. As of 2019, this industry's total benefits amounted to about 11.7 billion Canadian dollars, while total costs added up to roughly three billion Canadian dollars. Overall, net benefits reached 8.65 billion Canadian dollars. According to the source, this industry reported a benefit-cost ratio of 3.9, meaning that for every dollar invested in GLAMs, the society would get almost four dollars back.

Costs and benefits breakdown of galleries, libraries, archives, and museums in Canada in 2019, by type

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Release date

May 2020



Survey time period


Number of respondents


Special properties

Canadian residents

Supplementary notes

*Excluding academic libraries.
**The source adds the following information:
"This study provides an assessment of the value of GLAMs using cost-benefit analysis (CBA) within an economic welfare framework. It takes a Total Economic Value (TEV) approach, which measures the economic benefits accruing not just to direct beneficiaries such as GLAMs visitors, but to “non-users”— people who value GLAMs’ existence even if they have not recently visited one.

While assessing the costs of maintaining and operating GLAMs is relatively simple, quantifying the benefits is more difficult, requiring a range of economic techniques in line with the diversity of activities GLAMs undertake. These include a calculation of their value as visitor attractions — computed from what visitors actually pay to access GLAMs, but also an estimation of what visitors 'would have been prepared to pay' over and above the ticket price (known as the “consumer surplus”).

To capture the non-use and broader social value of GLAMs, we undertook a national survey of 2,045 Canadian residents. 'Willingness to pay' questions were incorporated in this survey, and quotas were imposed by sex, age, education, language (English/French), and province and territory of residence to ensure a representative sample of the Canadian population".

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