Thursday, August 2, 2012

PL 31/12: Indicators at IFLA

Filed under: IFLA, statistics — plinius @ 7:13 am

Proposing change is easy. Making change is hard.

Next week is IFLA time. My trip to Finland starts with the satellite conference in Turku on August 8-9 (Wed-Thu):

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


Other indicator papers in English



  1. Todd: nice presentation to at Satetlite IFLA meeting. I would like to post your paper to my library blog. ( Is that acceptable? I am ALA’s representative to IFLA Building and Equipement Committee and library planner/architect.

    Comment by Jeffrey Scherer — Thursday, August 9, 2012 @ 7:15 am

  2. Sorry. Autocorrected your name Tord.

    Comment by Jeffrey Scherer — Thursday, August 9, 2012 @ 7:16 am

  3. […] som observatør. Bildet er tatt på Mumin-øya utenfor Turku, der Markku (i midten) arrangerte en satellittkonferanse om  bibliotekstatistikk i […]

    Pingback by ST 55/12: Møte med Nasjonalbiblioteket i oktober « Samstat — Thursday, September 20, 2012 @ 10:08 am

  4. […] Indicators without customers […]

    Pingback by P 1/13: Året som gikk « Plinius — Monday, January 14, 2013 @ 2:41 pm

  5. […]  Indicators without customers.. Paper for IFLA satellite in Turku, August 7-8, 2012. […]

    Pingback by P 33/13: Frisk debatt med Frode | Plinius — Friday, September 13, 2013 @ 8:18 pm

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