Monday, February 9, 2009

PL 20/09: Statistics and advocacy

Filed under: IFLA, statistics — plinius @ 9:11 pm

culture-in-florenceWhen libraries do a good job, statistics can be used to demonstrate the quality of our work.

Cultural heritage – in Florence.

But this requires that statistical data be presented with competence and understanding. Occasional use of data – by politicians and other amateurs ;) – to prove a particular point of view, gives the subject a bad reputation.

Systematic use of statistics will reveal weaknesses as well as strengths. Picking and choosing the data you prefer is common in politics, but has nothing to do with science or professional argument. Statistics is a two-edged sword. People who don’t accept that, should stick to clubs and other blunt weapons.

In Milan, the Statistics and Evaluation Section is organizing two events – each lasting two hours:

  • Statistics on the Agenda
  • Statistics for Cultural Heritage

The first event is dedicated to the active, professional systematic use of statistical data in library planning, policy and advocacy.

A vital topic

We received a total of twenty-five proposals – of high quality in general – but could only include seven. We ended up with three papers from the public and three from the academic/special libraries sector. This corresponds roughly to the number of submissions in each category. The last paper, on the German evaluation system BIX, covers both sectors. You’ll find the full list of papers here – as a Google Docs document.

I was happy to see so many substantial proposals from all over the world. Library statistics are clearly developing in range, depth, sophistication and practical importance.

Seven papers are far too little to give an adequate picture of projects and activities in this field. The Northumbria conference in Florence, which is more specialized than IFLA, will certainly add more depth.  But I think we need a concerted effort, for a longer time,  to create a community of professionals that can share and develop their knowledge and experiences.

The whole field is in a dynamic phase. Statistical development work is involving library associations and statistical agencies, foundations and networks, nationally and internationally. I look forward to Florence and Milan, but also to 2010 and the years afterwards. This is definitely a topic whose time has come.



  1. Hi,I’m yang,your new student in Norway,wish to learn more in your class!

    Comment by yangniu — Wednesday, February 11, 2009 @ 12:52 pm

  2. hello,i’m Lynn,have a nice day

    Comment by yolandalin — Wednesday, February 11, 2009 @ 12:53 pm

  3. […] 20/09. Statistics and advocacy. Seven papers accepted for IFLA in […]

    Pingback by PL 47/09: Statistical agendas « Plinius — Tuesday, July 21, 2009 @ 10:28 am

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at

%d bloggers like this: