Next week is IFLA time. My trip to Finland starts with the satellite conference in Turku on August 8-9 (Wed-Thu):
- Library’s Efficiency, Impact and Outcomes. Home page
For about ten years I have spent fair amount of time looking at the design and use of performance indicators in libraries. I have been struck by the imbalance between the number of indicator proposals, on the one hand, and actual indicator practices, on the other.
Many administrators and library researchers, as well as a few practising librarians are eager to develop new indicators. They establish committees, conduct long discussions and write ambitious and well-meant plans. Their proposals may be discussed by the library community. But they are very seldom implemented.
This is the starting point for my paper in Turku: Indicators without customers. A study of the Norwegian library community.
The problem is practical. Change takes place in a material world. New indicators imply new efforts. The planners and their committees want the librarians to do the hard work – following their proposals, of course. But they do not calculate the cost involved – or the impact of new data. Indicators reveal both strong and weak points, of course.
This top-down approach may work within a centralized organization. It will never work in a loosely structured community. Instead I suggest a step-wise, or bottom-up approach. Let us start by describing current practices. Let us continue by improving them – one step at a time.
Committees talk the walk. Practitioners walk the talk.
Indicators without customers
- Abstract. Blog post at Plinius
- PPT version. Google Docs.
- Full text. Google Docs.
- Google Site version. Expanded.
- PL 75/10: Digital and multicultural practices. Walking the talk
Other indicator papers in English
- How Much is Much?: a Conceptual Study of Web Traffic. Liber Quarterly. The Journal of European Research Libraries, vol. 21 (2012), no. 2
- Working with indicators. A statistical framework for analysing public libraries. Unpublished.
- Count The Traffic. A new approach to user behavior. Unpublished.
- Comparing libraries. From official statistics to effective strategies. In Management, marketing and promotion of library services based on statistics, analyses and evaluation / edited by Trine Kolderup Flaten. Munchen : Saur, 2006. (= IFLA publications).
- Why do you ask? Reference statistics for library planning, Performance measurement and metrics, vol. 4 (2003), no. 1, pp. 28-37.