Plinius

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

PL 18/07: NTC – Numbers that count

Filed under: statistics — plinius @ 2:56 pm

moshi.jpgIn August, I look forward to present a half-day workshop on practical statistics in Stellenbosch, South Africa. The topic is:

Numbers that count. Selecting and using service indicators for public library development.

Northumbria

With their focus on measurement, the Northumbria conferences have come play a vital role in the development of evidence-based librarianship. The 7th conference in the series will be one of the IFLA 2007 satellite meetings.

Its full name tells a lot:

Northumbria International Conference on Performance Measurements in Libraries and Information Services: Quality assurance and outcomes assessment in libraries and information services

In the proposal I said

– The workshop [will be] highly interactive and practice oriented, with a combination of brief introductions, explanatory discussions, practical exercises (individual and in small groups) and seminar-type reflection towards the end.

Teaching materials will be distributed in print at the workshop. All teaching materials, including lecture notes, will be published on the open web at least one week before the workshop starts.

The gist of the matter

With the right methods, it is easy to measure the services your library provides. This half-day workshop will give you a practical introduction to the use of statistical indicators in public and academic libraries. We will concentrate on three topics:

  1. how to measure lending – by sample surveys and by using catalogue data
  2. how to measure visits to the library – by sample surveys and by electronic counters
  3. how to organize user surveys with simple questionnaires – and how to process the data

The course is aimed at practicing librarians and advanced library students with an interest – but no particular background – in measuring the impact of their services. I hope the participants will leave with a basic understanding of:

  • The value of systematic measurement
  • Some basic measurement techniques
  • Some typical errors and mistakes that should be avoided in data collection and analysis
  • The way statistical results can be used in planning and advocacy

The last time I taught statistics in Africa was more than thirty years ago. In 1974-75 I spent two years as a teacher of mathematics and statistics at the Chuo cha Ushirika (Co-operative College) in Moshi, Tanzania – with Kilimanjaro looming above baobabs and flame trees. It feels great to go back.

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