Such local initiatives work best as learning processes. They should preferably be shared with the wider library community from the start. That way everybody has a chance to learn from your experiences. Your library becomes more visible, and you often get useful feedback from other library people.
A stepwise approach
The best approach, I believe, is to do this step by step. A stepwise model may look like this.
- Describe your current situation – with regard to library statistics
- Publish this information on the open web
- Explore your current possibilities
- Take one step forward – by developing one of these possibilities
- Evaluate the results – after a suitable time (week, month, year, …)
- Repeat the steps above
I assume that every library can describe its current use – or non-use – of library statistics. I also assume that the libraries we discuss have workable internet connections.
Web publication is free. Many different publication systems are available. A combination of gmail, Google Docs and WordPress blogging is widely used, however. That is the one I will refer to when examples are needed – since it is the one I know from my own experience.
Libraries that lack web access can also develop local statistics, but doing so without the web would require rather more work.
The current possibilities will of course vary from country to country and from library to library. But I assume that all public libraries will want to say something
- about their users
- about their lending
- about their data services
- about their staff
Since we want to do advocacy, it may be good to start with the users.
Users are concrete, living persons. They are easy to imagine inside the library – borrowing books, doing school work, reading newspapers, sending e-mail to friends and families. Thus, statistics about library users should be highly relevant to politicians and administrators.
Users are voters and future voters. So let us count them.