ST 32/10: Signs of growth


Library statistics is clearly developing.

In a global perspective there are many positive signs of growth. Let me mention a few:

  • IFLA has taken a strong interest in statistics for advocacy – and has adopted a statistical manifesto.
  • In Germany, the library index BIX is well established both in the public and in the academic library sector
  • In the US, the new LJ Index for public libraries is professionally designed and also very well presented.

  • A fair number of countries now make detailed statistics available on the web. I am aware of the following – but there may be others:
    • The Nordic group: Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden
    • The Commonwealth group: Australia, Canada, New Zealand
    • The Netherlands
  • In other countries, the Global Libraries program of the Gates Foundation supports the digitalization of public libraries – and puts great emphasis on documenting its effects.
    • Africa: Botswana
    • Asia: Vietnam
    • Eastern Europe:  Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Ukraine
    • Latin America: Chile
  • In academic libraries, LibQual+ is well established – and has contributed to a culture of assessment..
  • In public libraries, workable indicators of web traffic have started to appear – with Denmark as the front runner.
  • Tools for observing user behavior inside libraries have started to appear – in Canada, in the US, in Norway
  • In general, evidence-based librarianship is (slowly) gathering momentum.

We can build on that.

Some of the problems we face are:

  • Library researchers and library agencies need to put their methods, their data and their discussions on the open web.
    • If this is not done, ordinary librarians will lack access to the results of empirical studies
    • The professional debate among experts will also be hampered by lack of information
  • National library authorities spend too much effort on repetitive data collection – and far too little on professional presentation and analysis of the results.
    • As a consequence, ordinary librarians take little interest in the statistics.
  • Many countries lack functioning statistical systems at the national level.
    • Here we need to offer simple methods for regular data collection that interested libraries can manage on their own



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