Reframing our approach to measures


A great day at Defining New Metrics for Library Success, organized by Jane Dysart & Stephen Abram at the iSchool on April 22/23 this week. With 100 people attending (the room couldn’t accommodate any more!), this is still a very hot issue for libraries. Here’s the presentation I was honoured to give with Joe Matthews. Joe is now working with PLA to develop common outcome measures for all public libraries regardless of their size or geography.


Framing the opportunities for powerful metrics in libraries with joe matthews from Rebecca Jones

Defining New Metrics for Library Success: April 22-23, 2014


2014 iSchool @ Toronto Symposium Series: Defining New Metrics for Library Success on Tuesday &Wednesday April 22-23, 2014, Toronto

Are you ready to communicate to your funders and community the real value that your library contributes?

Following the University of Toronto iSchool Institute’s two very successful symposia, Creative Making in Libraries & Museums and Pushing the Envelope in Education: Roles for Libraries in MOOCs and eLearning we are pleased to introduce our third symposium: Defining New Metrics for Library Success.

All libraries are challenged to communicate their value in uncertain fiscal and changing environments. Our communities, boards, management and institutions are asking for stronger and better measurements of our impact and value to help them with decision making and prioritization.

This symposium is about the various metrics and measures the library sector and discipline uses to manage what it is doing (it’s activities and individual services) and the value of what it is doing. These are very different measurement objectives and processes, yet complementary and vital. It discusses “measurement” in a broad sense, including the value of selected services as well as the overall management of processes and services. It is very important that people in the library sector are aware of different measures – – with different objectives. Who knows where new ideas will come from? All libraries can learn from each other.

This two-day event illustrates the breadth and depth of the challenge for stronger and better measurements of our impact and value:

Explores opportunities

Continue reading Defining New Metrics for Library Success: April 22-23, 2014

Learning to Measure Impact



Great to see Rebecca and Moe’s article on measuring impact in Computers in Libraries June 2013 (it’s the free fulltext for the month!) issue along with Stephen Abram‘s article on unlocking real value in libraries. If you want to work with them in person, Rebecca and Moe are giving a workshop at Internet Librarian 2013 on Sunday, October 27th — Measuring Library Impact. Stephan and Rebecca are also leading a workshop on Encouraging a Culture Change in Your Library

Return on Value


I’m listening to Juanita Richardson describe how a knowledge management organization in a large corporation is demonstrating return on value of one of their products. The knowledge product uses crowdsourcing to engage and tap the individual and collective know-how and know-that of 150,000 employees around the world. Within this global discussion environment employees respond to and shout out ideas and responses to questions or events posed. How does the knowledge management function demonstrate that this service is valuable for the corporation? The win rate of proposals. 150,000 people is a good market segment. Proposal teams toss out questions clients want to address. Since the client proposal team has started regularly using the crowdsourcing tool they are winning 75% of the client proposals, or 7.5 of every 10 proposals presented to clients, up from 6 out of 10. That’s value.

Verbs not Nouns to Show Impact!


For almost 30 years I’ve heard Stephen Abram talk about using verbs not nouns — first in our job descriptions to show we are actually having an impact on our organizations (he worked for Hay Associates at the time). But really, using impactful verbs should be in our DNA — informing, learning, socializing or collaborating (not just people but knowledge, information, and content!). Impact is far more important than providing help or assistance and is definitely critical when lobbying for resources or influencing decisions. I heard Stephen talk yesterday about analytics — things like customer satisfaction and tracking of what people are actually doing on your website — as a way to illustrate impact. His organization, Cengage Learning, has been doing some great research as they develop their products but they also share those research results and are creating programs to help others use their research to improve customer engagement. They have created marketing materials, train-the-trainer initiatives, and workshops on resume writing and finding your dream job which they have taken to libraries and communities whose residents really need to find work or change careers. Now that is having an impact, making a difference in people’s lives. I’ll link to the research data as soon as Stephen post’s it! Here are the slides.



I had another “wth?” experience at a public library yesterday. (For those of you who know me well, you know that’d I am much more likely to have said “wtf?” but I’m being diplomatic with “what the heck?” here.) Here’s the situation: our daughter struggles with mental illness & addictions. She & I were room-hunting for her in an urban area where she can attend programming. We’d look at several places & then wanted to check out some other places, for which we needed the web — both for email & a bit of searching. I’d been using my Blackberry, but the screen is pretty darned small, so I was delighted to locate the public library, and even more delighted that it was open! I encourage her REGULARLY, to find public libraries for directions to social services & to access the web. When she was in Hamilton I encouraged her to use Hamilton Public Library. Hamilton Public Library is outstanding, and is to be commended, for their services for those struggling in our communities. So I assumed the urban library we were entering yesterday (NOT Hamilton Public Library) would be as wonderful for her to deal with as HPL had been. I was delighted that we’d be able to benefit from the public library in a city (not to be named) and that she’d now know where this particular branch was for future usage in this new city (not to be named).

However (yes, there’s a “however”) as we went

Continue reading Another “wth?” Library Policy

Measuring the Value of Libraries continued…


Alexandra Yarrow is a brilliant young librarian (& incredible athlete, too!). She posted a thoughtful post to her blog, Only Connect, yesterday: (Measuring) The Value of Libraries. I’m reposting my comments on her post below just because the whole issue of measures is coming to the fore : we need to deal with measures now — seriously — collectively — critically (not being critical, but thinking critically). What types of measures are meaningful in the digital environment? Read Alexandra’s post and then my musings:

“Well done! You go girl!

I have been fascinated by the issue of performance measures and “value” of libraries for many years. When I speak or teach about measures I warn ppl at the outset that there isn’t a ‘magic measure’ and it is hard, complex work, so if you want to leave now I won’t be offended. It is hard work to identify, gather, interpret, manage and communicate those few measures that are meaningful for decision-makers at the time. Libraries continue to struggle for a few reasons (IMHO):

1. libraries need different measures for different purposes: the measures needed for management purposes (what’s being used, how much is being used, by who, etc.) differ from the measures needed to convey value and impact. Yet many libraries (ok not ALL – don’t jump on me!) continue to communicate too many measures & too much detail, which just confuses people & messes up the message (“me thinks though dost protesteth too much” — is that the saying?)

Continue reading Measuring the Value of Libraries continued…

CIL2011 Day 1: Stories Not Statistics


The only problem with Computers in Libraries is that I can only attend one session at a time. There were so many sessions I wanted to be at today, and those I did attend were exactly what I look for in conference sessions: interesting, idea-generating learning events.

What keeps conference organizers awake at night? The nightmare that a keynote speaker may not arrive on time to address several hundred attendees. Although this happened this morning, Jane, Tom Hogan and other Information Today organizers handled the situation gracefully quickly creating a panel with Roy Tennant, Stephen Abram, Marshall Breeding and Dick Kaiser who discussed the issue of e-books-publishers-lending-libraries. My takeaways from this session:

Although many in the library sector have been challenging Harper-Collins, the sector should focusing on Simon and Schuster who won’t license e-books to libraries at all Overdrive has been doing their best with e-books in the library environment Google’s agreement for every library to have “one Google terminal” for Google-digitized content does not include downloading or printing rights.

Madeline Barratt, Strategy & Performance Manager for Enfield Libraries in the UK spoke of London’s Libraries Consortium. Growing from 3 members to 15 in a couple of short years, the Consortium is yielding real benefits for all the boroughs. Madeline’s articulate, humourous delivery was engaging. My takeaways:

“Challenges grow like weeds” even for those who fiercely believe in public libraries, collaboration & consortia One challenge is to maintain a collaborative model as membership grows; they are developing their governance model

Continue reading CIL2011 Day 1: Stories Not Statistics

Guest Blog Post: #3 – Knowledge Professionals’ Performance Measures


Part 3: Knowledge Professionals……measuring our performance

by Susan Lipsey

In my last two posts I’ve written about marketing knowledge professionals’ services to our clients and defining our value to the business in their language. The third and complementary piece is performance measures. A profession’s ability to measure what it does allows the profession to establish and maintain best practices and accountability. It also allows the profession to manage competency development, evaluate against goals and compare work against that of peers. And our profession is no different.

Performance measures must be defined in terms of clients’ work and difference our services make to their work. Client interviews, focus groups and client discussions are all necessary steps in determining what your performance measures may look like. Performance measures are organization-dependent and change as the priorities and activities of the organization change. Documented processes and requirements for performance measures support replicating results and training new staff.

Some of my experiences establishing performance measures for research teams include:

– With a new team of inexperienced researchers,the goal of the performance measure was ensuring “service consistency”; in other words,

Continue reading Guest Blog Post: #3 – Knowledge Professionals’ Performance Measures