Presentation on theme: "From Features to Benefits: Challenges in Telling the Whole Story of Libraries and Library Users Alvin M. Schrader, PhD Director of Research, University."— Presentation transcript:
From Features to Benefits: Challenges in Telling the Whole Story of Libraries and Library Users Alvin M. Schrader, PhD Director of Research, University of Alberta Libraries OLA Super Conference Toronto, February 3, 2012
12 million items borrowed 2 million questions answered 169,000 items purchased 1.8 million web renewals 8 million website visits 14 million library visits 17 libraries 2 million holdings 107 databases 169,000 program attendees 2 million on-site uses
All Libraries in Canada* 40 million inquiries 403 million circulations 22,000 service points 465 million collection items 38,000 FTE staff $3-3.5 billion expenditure * National Core Library Statistics Program, 1999
Typical Uses of Library Statistics operational decision-making strategic planning budgeting and financial planning policy formation & evaluation, e.g., equity of access patterns & trends benchmarking
Big Picture Questions How do we tell the real story of the value of libraries and their services? What is their importance to library users? and to Canadian society and culture at large? How do we capture and communicate, to decision-makers, users, and our publics, the benefits of libraries and services? Hooks?
Not-for-profit value equation Value = assets - liabilities + goodwill * * Tina Thomas, EPL
Concepts and Language of Metrics… - performance indicators - social indicators - performance measures - KPIs - performance metrics - effectiveness measures - quality assurance measures - quality indicators - usage metrics - outputs - success indicators - ROI - SROI - benefits - outcomes - impacts - impact metrics - impact outcomes - results measures - user satisfaction?
National Core Library Statistics Program Statistical Report, 1999: Cultural and Economic Impact of Canadian Libraries on Canadian Society By Alvin M. Schrader and Michael R. Brundin March 2002 National Library Bibliothèque nationale of Canada du Canada
Concerns in Measuring Library Service regularity – for previous & multi-year comparisons data discrepancies – validity (definitions, different ways of counting), consistency, accuracy, completeness higher level measures – e.g., per time period; per branch; per capita; ratio of in-house to off-site use; ratio of visits to use; over time; before & after economic impact measures – e.g., multiplier effect comparison with other services comparison with other cultural sectors sense of the particular – individual, not just demographics diagnostic value – to identify weaknesses in specific services and make improvements
Concerns … Missing Measures: user visits – on-site, phone, virtual on-site use of materials, services, equipment awareness levels user satisfaction user demographics user attributes – knowledge, understandings, opinions, skills, beliefs, values, behaviour, attitudes, motivations, perceptions, expectations, feelings, satisfaction, loyalty, etc. user benefits, impacts, outcomes, change – knowledge, understandings, opinions, skills, beliefs, values, behaviour, attitudes, motivations, perceptions, expectations, feelings, satisfaction, loyalty, etc.
Library service complexity people-based – hard to study
Studying nuclear physics is childs play compared to studying childs play. - Stephen Herrero in Bear Attacks, quoting his psychology professor
Library service complexity … people-based – hard to study multidimensional
Federal Government Policy Files: industry & agriculture transport culture, heritage & official languages citizenship, immigration & multiculturalism human resources & skills development finance
Alberta Government Departments (2004) agriculture childrens services community development* economic development energy & environment food & rural development government services health & wellness human resources & employment innovation & science justice learning** persons with disabilities seniors * public libraries ** school libraries ** post-secondary libraries
Provincial & Territorial Ministries Most Commonly Responsible for Public Libraries* Culture Education Community Services * 2010 & 2004 combined
Provincial & Territorial Ministries Responsible for Public Libraries – 2010 Municipal Affairs Education Culture, Heritage & Tourism Post-Secondary Education, Training & Labour Education Education, Culture & Employment Communities, Culture & Heritage Culture, Language, Elders & Youth Tourism & Culture Community & Cultural Affairs Culture, Communications & Womens Issues Education Community Services
Provincial & Territorial Ministries Responsible for Public Libraries – 2004 Community, Aboriginal & Womens Services Community Development Learning Culture, Heritage & Tourism Culture Culture et Communications Education Community & Cultural Affairs Community Services Education, Culture & Employment Culture, Language, Elders & Youth
Library service complexity … people-based – hard to study multidimensional designed for self-service without physical form fleeting, transient different every time for every user perceived differently by staff & users
The one thing that can be said with absolute certainty about service institutions is that their publics do not have the same image of them as do the people who toil within them. - Peter Drucker
Library service complexity … prior user experiences influence both expectations & satisfaction everyone tends to (over)generalize word-of-mouth influences library reputation service & quality change with time & circumstances library users are co-creators and partners in service quality & value
The first step is to measure whatever can be easily measured. This is OK as far as it goes. The second step is to disregard that which can't be easily measured or to give it an arbitrary quantitative value. This is artificial and misleading. The third step is to presume that what can't be measured easily really isn't important. This is blindness. The fourth step is to say that what can't be measured really doesn't exist. This is suicide. - Robert McNamara
What is a cynic? A man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing. - Oscar Wilde Not everything that counts can be counted. - Albert Einstein
From supplier eyes to user eyes... Library features and services are potentials for user benefit. Library service outputs – transactions & interactions – are user inputs. Library service outputs are potential impacts. Library user impacts, outcomes, & benefits are changes & transformations in user attributes.
From supplier eyes to user eyes … Every library use is about choice – about people making intentional choices to use a library. Every library use is about an experience. Every library use is about potential impact & benefit. Every library use is about impact & transformation – on knowledge, understandings, opinions, skills, beliefs, values, behaviour, attitudes, motivations, perceptions, expectations, feelings, satisfaction, loyalty, and other attributes.
From supplier eyes to user eyes … Every library use is about a moment of truth for institutional reputation, marketing, & branding. Every library use is about perception & image, about the library brand & library branding. a brand is the intangible sum of attributes & implicit cultural referencing, a unifying identity Every library use is about shared values. Every library use is a story.
A way forward in measuring library value … Identify key user-centric metrics. Consider all kinds of problems – e.g., studies of visibility, usability, awareness, economic impact, specific services, shared values, etc. Consider all sources of evidence – including users & staff, especially front-line staff interacting with users. Consider all kinds of evidence – including testimonial, anecdotal, narrative, qualitative, quantitative, visualization, & philosophical.
A way forward … contd Develop a plan for systematic collection of key user- centric data – market research. Develop a communication & marketing plan – recognizing word of mouth, staff, users, champions, etc.
One patron's testimonial is worth a thousand gate counts when it comes to making the case for libraries. - Sandra Singh
At the beginning of the 21 st century, there are more libraries in Canada than Tim Hortons and McDonald's combined 22,000 compared to 2800 Tims & 1400 McDonald's.
Public Libraries: More cardholders than VISA, more items than FedEx, more outlets than Tim Hortons & McDonalds – Ottawa Public Library
The Citys most-used public facility – visited more often than the Calgary Flames, the Calgary Zoo, Theatre Calgary, Heritage Park and other sports, culture and recreation facilities combined! - Calgary Public Library
Asset Sound Bite Openness to newcomers Toronto Public Library is & earning their trust where newcomers go to become Torontonians. [former Mayor David Miller] Staff expertise & resources Recession sanctuary. for people in employment transition 24/7 digital access Fast, friendly, self-service. * thanks to Wendy Newman, Senior Fellow, Faculty of Information, University of Toronto Worksheet for developing key messages*
Asset Sound Bite Physical space The third place. Staff expertise & resources Your partners in knowledge. We sweat the details so you dont have to. - Ulla de Stricker Childrens services & Libraries grow good kids. resources Library as place The communitys living room. - Strathcona County PL Worksheet for developing key messages (2)
Asset Sound Bite Rich resources, ILL Passionate about sharing. Beyonces latest. Beethovens greatest. Progressive, fun organization We are information ninjas. We speak geek. Defenders of intellectual Standing up for ideas. freedom. * Edmonton Public Library Worksheet for developing key messages* (3)
Asset Sound Bite Rare books & special A legacy investment. collections Effective legal research Practising safe research!? Worksheet for developing key messages (4)
Central Questions What value do we add to the universe of cultural records and information for the people we serve? What value do we add to their quality of life? Are the library vision & mission user-centric & outcomes-driven? How do we answer the big So What questions? And what are the hooks to get – and hold – peoples attention?
Librarianship isn't about gate count and circulation figures, but people helped, lives enriched, and communities improved. - Sandra Singh
Repositioning Libraries Benefits not features. Value experienced not value added. Transformations not transactions. Making a difference in peoples lives. Telling their stories is telling ours.