- in the successful management and operation of libraries
- in the demonstration of the value of libraries outside the profession
These goals – we state – require
- definition, standardization, collection, analysis, interpretation, publication and use of statistical data
Public and academic
With regard to statistics, there are substantial differences between the academic and the public library sector. Libraries are service organizations. To understand libraries, we have to understand the environments they serve.
Academic libraries belong to professional organizations. Universities and colleges are – by their very nature – specialized, knowledge intensive institutions. Their libraries are shaped by the academic context.
Public libraries are much more local in nature. They range from large and professional metropolitan organizations to poorly equipped libraries in provincial towns and distant villages. Academic and special libraries tend to reflect the standards of their mother organizations. Public libraries reflect the economic, social and cultural situation of their communities. To understand public library statistics, we have to understand the communities in which they work.
Definitions and standards
I think it is fair to say that international work in the field of public library statistics has tended to concentrate on definitions, standards and general methods. These topics are relatively independent of the social context. But we cannot study the
- and actual use
of public library statistics without looking at concrete countries and cases. The actual situations we find – going from Germany to China to Mexico to South Africa (say) – are extremely different. In some countries, there are also great differences between urban and rural areas.
I strongly believe that the field of library needs more professional debate, based on more systematic data collection and wider sharing of statistical information and analyses.By professional I mean peer-based coversations guided by statistical, sociological and economic reasons rather than by ideological, administrative or political arguments.
This is clearly happening in a number of countries. In Europe I could mention Germany (BIX), Finland, Sweden and the Netherlands. There are rich – and sometimes heated – debates in the United States (HALPR; LJ Index). The Global Libraries Program has increased the demand for, and interest in, statistical documentation. Countries like China and Singapore, New Zealand and Canada are exploring relevant professional issues.
But only a few countries combine decent statistical systems with lively professional debate. Statistics based advocacy requires both.
- Ray Lyons. Public Libraries Statistical reports
- Lib(rary) Performance
- Unique blog by a professional library statistician
- A Preponderance of the Evidence
- Frequently Asked Questions on the HAPLR Index
- IFLA/SES Core indicators for public libraries
- IFLA/UNESCO indicators for public libraries
- KOSTRA indicators for public libraries
- BIX indicators for public libraries
- Global population statistics
GLOSSA: statistics for single libraries
- Library fact sheets
- Watching people
- Observation data: getting started
- Counting days
- Time series
- Library visits
- Step by step
- Statistics for single libraries
- PL 53/10: Practical advocacy. Competitive sports in five different leagues.
- PL 52/10: Library ratings. Two US quality indexes compete for attention
- PL 50/10: Count The Traffic 2010. Revised presentation of the CTT method – with new data from public libraries.
- PL 49/10: Missing links. Who will bridge the gap between librarians and library researchers?
- PL 40/10: Global forces. Trend analysis from McKinsey.
- PL 34/10: Evidence 2.0. Notes on evidence-based professions.