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What business are we in? Value added services, core business and national library performance Dr Judith Broady-Preston (copyright retained) Director of.

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Presentation on theme: "What business are we in? Value added services, core business and national library performance Dr Judith Broady-Preston (copyright retained) Director of."— Presentation transcript:

1 What business are we in? Value added services, core business and national library performance Dr Judith Broady-Preston (copyright retained) Director of Research, Department of Information Studies, Aberystwyth University, UK and Wendy Swain, Postgraduate Student, Aberystwyth University UK Presentation to “Proving Value in Challenging Times”, 9 th Northumbria International Conference on Performance Measurement in Libraries and Information Services, University of York, August 2011

2 Outline Context and background doom and gloom or hope? What business are we in? Research Project, Design, methodology and approach A typical National library? Definitions Core business and purpose Value and worth Customers, purpose and Value Where are we now? Reflections and future projects

3 Doom and gloom? “if libraries didn’t exist, they would not be invented now” (Fintan O’Toole, quoted in the Presidential Address, AGM, Library Association of Ireland, 9/03/2006) “it is clearly the case that the public view of libraries is that they are no longer relevant in a digital age” (O’Connor, Library Management, 2006). “The library service is nearing a crisis point after suffering years of funding cuts, deskilling of the workforce and recent threats of outsourcing” (Unison General Secretary Dave Prentis, The Telegraph 29 June 2011) ‘“My sister reads a lot of books but she wastes a lot of money buying them and then never looking at them again. Is there sort of, like, a video rental place for books?”’ Do we need to, like, sort of, worry about the profession’s image when the real world has got as bad as this?’ (Swaffield, L. (2008) Media watching, Library + Information Update, 7 (4), p.48)

4 Hope on the horizon? “The closure of so many libraries and the slashing of budgets is certainly a bleak prospect, but I am inclined to be optimistic. Alongside the death of the library (a worldwide phenomenon) there are grounds for hope (Robert McCrum, The Guardian, 12 May “2011 has been a dismal year for the UK's embattled libraries, but help is now finally at hand. The 208,000 members of the Women's Institute have thrown their weight behind the campaign to save them” (Alison Flood, The Guardian, 10 June battle-save-libraries “ librarians need to embrace positively the challenges of creating and sustaining relationships based on active partnership with their customers…moving beyond merely ascertaining need and providing for [it]…into a two-way collaborative relationship reliant on purposeful and relevant communication strategies” (Broady-Preston, Felice and Marshall, 2006) [cf ‘the embedded librarian’ May 2011]

5 Context and Background What business are we in? Confusion re: purpose Core vs ‘value-added’ or peripheral? Contextual question Generic vs sector specific National Libraries: why? Body of research in academic and public library sector Allows for wider applicability – essentially academic AND public library

6 Research Project Questions and foci 1. Contemporary purpose of National Libraries 2. Distinguishing between core business and value added services in the National Library context, including an assessment of how such judgements are derived 3. The use made of core and value added services in the strategic planning process to facilitate achievement of library purpose 4. To what extent do national libraries perceive as important demonstrating achieving purpose, worth and value to stakeholders.

7 Design, Methodology and Approach Collective case study Qualitative interpretative aim = examine social phenomena and understand social behaviour in context Focus on ‘small, smart libraries’ IFLA informal network begun Countries which are Politically, educationally, socially, technologically advanced, [but]...are relatively small on the world stage (NLS, 2010) Purpose = Networking and information sharing; addressing issues common concern and identifying solutions Core cases individual AND integrated/comparative analysis UK = Geography/convenience/language National Libraries Wales (NLW) and Scotland (NLS) NOT British Library

8 Design, Methodology and Approach cont... Data Collection and analysis 2010: all 3 UK national libraries published new strategic vision and plans Semi-structured interviews senior managers Focus groups Purposive sampling ‘Librarians’ ‘Library assistants’ Survey instruments piloted Analysis Data coded, classified and cross-checked Themed schedules Aberystwyth University research ethics guidelines

9 ‘A typical National Library’? Different yet similar? National Library Purpose: Safeguarding and providing access to national heritage Legal deposit  the act of depositing published material in designated libraries. Publishers and distributors in the [UK] and Ireland have a legal obligation to deposit material in the 6 legal deposit libraries (ALDL, 2011, online) Hargreaves Review 2011 Google books 2011 Leadership and advice Harnessing technology – early adopters? Customers of ‘all ages and all walks of life’ Wales and Scotland Legal deposit Est. Wales (1907); Scotland (1925) Unique situation Wales – not in capital city but Aberystwyth. Bi-lingual legal requirement

10 Definitions Research study definitions: Core business – activities and services fundamental to the library’s existence Value added services - additional activities or services that the library carries out in order to add value to their operations Useful? Difficulties in classification – not as obvious as it seems! Notion of “value” – whose perspective? Stakeholders Past, present or future? Judgements effectively made by SMT, “Board” (Council or Court) and Government Relationship to performance measurement, accountability and decision making

11 Core Business Translates as purpose ‘What business are we in’ OR ‘stick to the knitting’ Strategic + legal Individual libraries = unique Governments exert substantial influence – need for continuous demonstration efficiency and effectiveness Strategy formulation = complex as is management and control. Possible conflict? the National Library of Scotland is a charity as well as...a Non- Departmental Public Body...which means the Trustees have to act in the interests of the charity but the Scottish Government tends to want to control the bodies that it funds...so there can be some tension about who really controls the library, is it the Board of Trustees of the funders? (NLS, SMT.3)

12 Core Business Why is the organisation in existence? Reason vs roles/functions ‘Fit’ with contemporary societal perspectives Not changing purpose but changing delivery to retain contemporary relevance Divergent views? Strategically, slight change of emphasis –e.g. NLW specifically refers to preservation whilst not stated explicitly in NLS’ Vision and mission All staff distinguished between core and supporting services as defined in Charters Non-SMT staff able to define traditional core strategic functions from current strategies – i.e. collection, preservation and access. BUT – no specific reference to developing the organisation or building relationships

13 Value and Worth Perception and interpretation “value added services” = term not employed relationship to accountability – dilettantism and unfavourable perception by key stakeholders Shop and café = ‘ancillary services’ (Green, 2008, 3) Demonstrating value – performance measurement Links to demonstrable core business + strong justification Fundamental to continuing viability – need to add value to attract and retain customers Meeting expectations – providing the common place Is ‘visitor centre’ activity now core? Blurring of boundaries Role of competition? Commercial rivals

14 Customers, purpose and value “the people who interact with any library service are the reason for the organization’s existence. Therefore their needs and desires should drive the service” (Hernon & Altman, 2010, 3) Users vs non-users – unique role of the national library Use and relationship to value Physical vs virtual access – geographic barriers ‘visitor centre’ experience – widening access and use – purpose, formats and social perceptions image Widening concept of customers – beyond the national Tensions? Traditional library roles vs changing user needs and expectations Preservation, collation and access

15 Where are we now? One of wider Aberystwyth group of studies viz value, impact, meaning and identity “pervasive human desire to identify with the social system of which we are a part” (Rousseau, 1998) Identity: need and search for “fit” – (Pratt 1998) NB values and culture match Macro vs micro response - Social Identity Theory (SIT) ( Tajfel 1972) professional (group) identity rests on shared meaning and understanding Meaning in relation to identity - Constructed reality More research needed: Understanding of purpose, value and worth in relation to concepts of contemporary profession and professional meaning and identity Explore in greater depth concepts of strategic planning and performance measurement in relation to defining core and ancillary service delivery Relationship between, and impact of economic retrenchment and change on relative purpose and staff engagement

16 Finally… Hopefully a starting point for further discussion/debate Thank-you for listening – happy to answer questions either now or in the future Contact –


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