Value: The Proof is in the Metrics
What is value, and how can you prove that your library or information center provides it?
Value is the standard by which many business leaders evaluate the success of their internal operations, and finding a formula or process for measuring how the library contributes to it has become the proverbial Holy Grail of information professionals. Many info pros reflexively turn to measures such as return on investment, but as Constance Ard writes in the September/October issue of Information Outlook, ROI "is an after-the-fact metric" that is "less useful than it once was." Transactional statistics–for example, the number of times users access information resources–also miss the mark; as Martha Haswell notes, such metrics "are invaluable in managing a library, but they are not sufficient for influencing senior management's thinking on library value or funding."
So, how can information professionals demonstrate and communicate value? Ard, Haswell and Steve Hiller have some ideas:
- Metrics to evaluate library value should be developed jointly by organizational management, the library, and the user community. (Hiller)
- Organizations with a global presence are placing more value on increasing the number of hours per day that library staff are available to assist users. (Haswell)
- With the rising price of information resources, many libraries and information centers are asking other departments to share these costs, which can help demonstrate value. (Haswell)
- Applying metrics is a matter of asking the five W's (who, what, where, when and why) as well as how. (Ard)
- The key factor in deciding which metrics to communicate is to align them with organizational goals and values. (Ard)
These are just a few of the insights on metrics and value you can gain by reading the September/October issue of Information Outlook, the magazine of SLA. And be sure to check out the member interview with Dee Baldwin, Deanna Marcum's thoughts on doctoral degrees for librarians, Jill Strand's review of Guy Kawasaki's speech at SLA 2012 and how it can benefit your marketing efforts .. and much, much more.
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