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Facing the future: Round-up, overview and panel discussion Stephen Town Director of Information University of York.

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Presentation on theme: "Facing the future: Round-up, overview and panel discussion Stephen Town Director of Information University of York."— Presentation transcript:

1 Facing the future: Round-up, overview and panel discussion Stephen Town Director of Information University of York

2 Round-up Strategic challenges and tactical responses The value proposition Working together Bargaining

3 Speakers points: a selection 1 Gary: vendor management David:value proposition David:fair pricing Martin:access benefits Martin:complex reality Martin:use price Martin:value for money

4 Speakers points: a selection 2 Martin: brand driven use Martin:open access 11:38 Tony:competitive concerns Tony:collaborative working Tony:reduced overheads Sally:no certainty Sally:content imbalance

5 Speakers points: a selection 3 Sally:sustainable expenditure Sally:finding failures Sally:new activities Sally:library rethink Sally:special differentiation Sally:value presentation Sally:relevant indicators

6 Lessons from the past? Avoid lose-lose situations Dont get caught in the middle: blame- blame Neither fight nor flight reaction Dont reward negative behaviours Failure to influence scholarly communication at any point? Giving it all away? Collecting counter-productive evidence?

7 Cost and Value focusing on cost without being able to demonstrate [service] value and quality … leaves the initiative to people whose chief concern is cost-control or profit: the funders and the vendors Whitehall, T (1995)

8 Strategy or tactics: the context Resource inflation greater than growth Service development demands Quality and expectation demands Competitive differentiation? Low staff inflation

9 Conclusions 1 Costs must be controlled –Individually –Institutionally –Collectively Purchase choice must shift to value –Quantitative measures insufficient –Qualitative evaluation critical to debate –Understanding of new user behaviours

10 Conclusions 2 Maximising return –Better awareness –Active exploitation –Intermediate guidance Minimising overheads –Licensing, compliance and bureaucracy –Active engagement with publishers at all levels –Charging back for University contributions –Managing expectations

11 Questions?


13 Panel discussion The antidote for panel games Im the bull to the two bears at the other end I dont want to appear flippant, but my background is 20 year in a contract situation with a need to cut around 30% every five to seven years; plus now being in an institution confident of riding out this recession. So Ill do two things I never do: first is read my presentation, because its never going to be on the conference website, the second is to give free advice So in the spirit of airport bookshop management texts with numbers in their titles, and old fashioned wisdom books like Donts for wives 1913, heres my Five pieces of good advice for bad times

14 1. Dont panic (unless its a good act for University senior management) Things are never as bad as they seem Leadership is about exuding calm and ensuring sustainability across bad times and good, not joining mass hysteria Measure and manage morale and other culture dimensions; your staff will see you successfully through bad times, not money

15 2. Preserve your measurement systems and their underpinning value assumptions as a priority Cant show the detriments of financial change if you dont have good data Data is more persuasive if you didnt appear to have just invented it for hard times and single issue arguments

16 3. Dont start from here If your Library Director doesnt already know through a flexible and adaptive strategic analysis how to cut or grow by 4/10/40% then get a new one (you dont have a strategy); just dont expect him or her to share it with you Dont salami slice; if you dont have a Boston Box, get one Know the consequences through data and evidence for the institution of whatever actions are required Your users are your best friends and the best sources of data

17 4. Provide your Director with excellent and accurate cost breakdowns for all library activity Dont ever attempt to mislead your Director about anything financial ever (even if its really bad news) Be realistic; all systems can be made cheaper; get over the loss of gold plating

18 5. Dont break the virtuous cycle of good performance leading to investment leading to better performance Dont punish the users for your own shortcomings in measurement Use the data to better informed about use and value than they are

19 The University Context (from the 2006 Library Assessment Conference, after Lombardi ) Universities have two bottom lines 1.Financial (as in business) 2.Academic, largely through reputation in Research (the priority in leading Universities) Teaching (& maybe Learning)

20 RIN Report on academic library challenges … there is a strong feeling among senior librarians that they have failed effectively to communicate the value of their services … there is an increasing risk that much of what libraries actually do may be invisible in a virtual environment. … we believe it is important that libraries should be able to show … that they provide services with demonstrable links to success in achieving institutional goals. Return on investment is thus an increasingly important issue. Libraries need to be more proactive in seeking to understand user behaviour and workflows; and in rigorously demonstrating the value of their activities …. The focus of performance indicators up to now has tended to be on inputs and outputs … rather than addressing the much harder issues relating to impact and value. … we believe it is essential that more work is done to analyse the relationships between library activities … and learning and research outcomes ….

21 Guardian editorial reporting Professor Michael Sandels Reith Lectures, 4th July 2009 the credit crunch has exposed myriad mirages, demonstrating how the market can get things badly wrong when it comes to valuing things … when bureaucracies price things which should not be priced, they start trading them off against other objectives, instead of appreciating their absolute obligations.

22 What is value? Cost efficiency Cost effectiveness Cost comparison (for benchmarking) Financial management process standards & audit Financial allocation (for transparency) Valuation (including contingent valuation) Value added Return on investment Best value programmes (eg UK Open University)

23 Questions about computing value Extrinsic or intrinsic value? Instrumental or symbolic? Holistic or process-based? Transcendent or hedonic? Value within a value system

24 Orrs Library Goodness (1973) Is good Quality Effectiveness Does good Value Benefit

25 The distinction between Quality and Value R. H. Orr. (1973). MEASURING THE GOODNESS OF LIBRARY SERVICES: A GENERAL FRAMEWORK FOR CONSIDERING QUANTITATIVE MEASURES. Journal of Documentation. 29 (3), p318.


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