Advocacy in practice: public or academic*


schoolOne of the important strategic questions for our advocacy project is the choice of cases and contexts.

Should our training module concentrate on the impact of public or on academic libraries?  It is easy to respond both at the same time, – and there is clearly a need for both capabilities “out there”.  But then we face a pedagogical problem. Should we plan for a “mixed audience” – of public and academic library staff – with the same curriculum for both?

Our task is to design a one day course on statistics based advocacy – within a broader IFLA program – aimed at library associations. But should we teach library impact assessment in general – regardless of context – or would it be more effective to develop context-specific courses – one for public, one for academic, and maybe one for school libraries, say?

Three contexts

In the public library field, we would mainly be interested in the impact on the local – and regional – community, I presume: which may include literacy, health, employment, economy, social participation and institution building, and other dimensions of local development. In the academic field, the focus is more on the library’s measurable contribution to learning and research production. School libraries fall somewhere in the middle, since schools and their libraries are educational institutions  – but generally with strong connections to their local communities.

We need to have a free and frank discussion about this before the meeting in Hague, I feel. Below I provide some views from the e-mail discussion so far.


In a letter to the network I wrote – not as a conclusion, but requesting comments:

  • The task of the working group (WG) established in Milan is

    • to design a teaching module within the IFLA advocacy training program
    • to support its practical testing in the field during the spring 2010
  • The module – and the corresponding one day course – will (at least initially) be focused on the use of statistics for advocacy in public libraries

Some responses

  • Are we agreed that it’s only focussing on public libraries? Remember the primary target audience is library associations who will have a wider remit.
  • [TH] On the public versus all libraries, I’m not sure – and hope Fiona [Bradley] (or others) can clarify IFLA’s intentions – in the shorter and longer run .
  • [FB] The training course would focus on the use of statistics for advocacy by library associations on behalf of public libraries and others, using global library statistics as a basis. This may also need to include a component on how public libraries are themselves trained to collect such statistics, and how to develop statistical measures to meet local needs.
  • I would suggest that we focus on advocacy, lib associations as a vehicle for advocacy, and then in terms of all libraries. Public libraries will of necessity be the largest component probably but categorizing right now might limit our thinking a bit – when we are still in a creative and formative stage.  We want to prepare people to gather info on libraries and literacy wherever it can be had!
  • We  must focus  on advocacy and  added  value  (economic  value)  of libraries. Public libraries  should be  probably associated  as  a way for us  to optimise any outcomes  on the comunity and  for which we have to evaluate  the impact by appropriate   statistics.
  • As an academic libarian I an aware of the fact that (at least in Italy) we need a great advocacy action in academic libraries too.
  • I agree that academic and school libraries should be included.  Of course, in each country there are differences, but usually academic institutions tend to require their librarians to have professional library training.  Academic librarians should be able to bring their knowledge to the workshop.

How to participate

Comments to the blog – on this and other issues – are invited – also from people not directly involved with this project.

  • Note that your first comment will only appear after it has been be moderated.
  • Later comments will normally be published immediately.
  • Comments may be edited, but only to avoid spam and statements that are off-the-track (in the  editor’s view, at least …).

People in the project network may also join the blog as contributing authors. This means you may log in and write your own blog posts – not just comments. Please send me (TH)  a message – including your email-address – if you want to join the authoring group.


See the comment by Markku Laitinen


4 Responses to “Advocacy in practice: public or academic*”

  1. Maria Cassella Says:

    I read the comments. You posted also mine. Next time I wiil post my opnions directly on your blog

  2. plinius Says:

    Thanks Maria
    I look forward to that.

  3. henczel Says:

    Tord and others

    Thank you for your outline of the planned expert meeting – this is very exciting.

    I am currently running workshops in Australia that focus on the development of appropriate measurement frameworks for libraries that incorporate impact assessment and advocacy. The primary participants are from the higher education and special (corporate/government) library sectors who requested this workshop as a way of developing the fundamental understanding of how measurement can be used for advocacy. As well as public programs in Melbourne and Brisbane I am running 2 foundation workshops in late October – one in Canberra for 60 of our government librarians and one in Sydney for the HE sector.

    I conducted a preliminary workshop last month for a mixed group from public and academic libraries and found that the fundamentals are the same across library sectors – using sector-specific case studies was useful.

    I realise that this is not exactly what Framework A requires but if the workshop is suitable for transition or adaptation to meet the needs of the working group I would be happy to share the content. It is very basic but covers –

    • Terminology and standards – definitions and ISO standards
    • Statistics as evidence – physical things and collections; usage and user populations; income and expenditure; client satisfaction; impacts and effectiveness
    • The relationship between statistics, evaluation and assessment – including trend analysis and benchmarking
    • Quantitative and qualitative data for library assessment
    • Strategic measurement – aligning with strategic objectives; performance indicators
    • Presenting statistical data – choosing the best presentation methods and what NOT to do.

    All of this could be easily shaped to focus on Library Associations – however when considering library associations as the vehicle for advocacy we have an interesting situation in Australia.

    The national Library Association (ALIA) is not fully representative of all libraries – we have become fragmented over the past few years and many smaller discipline, regional or sector-specific associations have been established that are not always connected to or aligned with ALIA. School libraries are fairly well connected but specials (corporate in particular) are not aligned nationally at all. HE and public libraries are in better shape but their statistical frameworks are archaic and not aligned with current international standards. It is an interesting situation and one that could be helped enormously by a project such as this.

    Sue Henczel

  4. mls Says:


    […]Advocacy in practice: public or academic* « Global statistics for advocacy[…]…

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