Last year we ran a discussion topic on proving our worth as libraries (and librarians) that covered the range of possible options from traditional statistics such as gate counts to developing an elevator pitch to tell your library’s story in just a few minutes.
During March, I was fortunate to attend a Values and Impact forum for academic libraries in Sydney, put on by the Council of Australian University Librarians (CAUL). While specifically aimed at academic teaching and research libraries, there were some interesting questions sparked in my head from the range of speakers during the day. These are questions that can be applied across library sectors at one level or another.
How do we demonstrate our value?
The consistent theme through the day was to step back from that question a bit and first make sure that we know how to measure our value – let alone demonstrate it. Some of the questions below might help you to consider how you measure value in your library:
- What do we/should we consider when trying to measure value? A straight economic return on investment or a values based approach?
- Does your library use a defined model or technique or process to measure value? Or is the approach ad-hoc and developed on the fly whenever the annual report falls due?
- What are the things that are the same or different when it comes to demonstrating value across the sector?
- What do you ‘count’ in your library? Importantly, how do you use that data to make decisions? For example, if you know your gate counts are high at a certain time of the year, do you use that information to move furniture around, flag staffing levels or make sure there are more single study desks available?
- What can you let go of measuring or counting? Don’t necessarily let go of ‘traditional’ statistics, but really consider whether you can use them in new ways, to draw new conclusions or stpot trends, causes or connections.
- Is your library input invisible? Many of us working in academic libraries have encountered researchers who claim they ‘never set foot in the library anymore’ – yet they are using electronic resources paid for and organised by the library on a daily basis without realising or acknowledging the library’s role in their work.