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