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Metrics! Metrics! Metrics! at the Special Libraries Association

Posted by on June 30th, 2008 Posted in: Library Value, Practical Evaluation


How can benchmarking, ROI, and other metrics illustrate value to users and stakeholders?  This standing-room-only session at the Special Libraries Association meeting featured analysts from Outsell shared benchmarking results and suggested combining such comparative data with “Market Penetration” (the ratio of your actual to potential users).  Panelists also discussed the difference between “Operational Metrics” (measures needed for daily library management activities) and “Strategic Metrics” (measures that show the library’s value to the organization).  They described strategic assessment–in which 6-8 strategic actions that support the organization’s critical strategies are identified through user and stakeholder research combined with group brainstorming.  After strategic actions are selected, metrics are determined, and ownership is assigned.  Stakeholder research includes needs assessment, client satisfaction studies, and return on investment/cost-benefit analysis.  Outsell panelists also advocated use of a combination of qualitative and quantitative research, since “numbers alone do not tell the story,”  and attention to organization-wide standards (such as Balanced Scorecard and/or Total Quality Management).

This bright and early morning session on 6/16/08 was hosted and organized by the Special Libraries Association’s Government Information Division.  Librarians in the audience shared their challenges and best practices for applying metrics to quantify and justify their operations.   The PowerPoint from Outsell should be available soon at the division’s web site.

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