SFA Interim Project Report

Statistics and Evaluation Section
Interim Project Report: “Statistics for Advocacy”

July 15th
Colleen Cook, Toni Feliu, Tord Høivik, coordinator

IFLA has developed a series of training modules for competence building within the BSLA program (Building Strong Library Associations). The main focus is advocacy – or the power to mobilize people, politicians, parties and governments at all levels to  support libraries – based on their actual contributions to society. At the Milan conference in August 2009, IFLA asked the Statistics and Evaluation Section to develop a learning module, in the form of a one day course, on the collection and use of statistics within that framwork.

We started to develop the module, in September. IFLA helped us organize an international workshop in the Hague, in December, and run a pilot course in Chania, Crete, in May 2010. A second pilot was run in Gothenburg, during the IFLA conference in august 2010. We called the course development project Global statistics for advocacy, or GLOSSA, for short. The development team consisted of Colleen Cook, Toni Feliu and Tord Høivik (coordinator). The course itself is now named Statistics for Advocacy (SFA). Both the process and the results of the project were documented on the GLOSSA blog (https://iflastat.wordpress.com). Based on the inputs from the participants, the course materials were revised during the autumn. A final version (or rather the 1.0 version) was published by IFLA on its learning platform on March 1, 2011. By agreement, these materials are also available for cosultation and downloading from the GLOSSA web site.

The Section got a grant of 3.000 euros in support of local courses in 2011. We had hoped to do an SFA course in Spanish during the IFLA conference in Puerto Rico, based on contact with an interested local institution during the Gothenburg conference. The development team, represented by its Spanish member, was however unable to get a definite commitment from the Puerto Rican side before time got too short. A couple of other “possibles” in 2011 did not materialize either. Courses have been arranged and funded locally, however: six in Lithuania and one in Norway.

The Lithuanian courses were arranged by Ugne Lipekaite. The Norwegian course, in May 2011, was sponsored by Buskerud County Library and the LATINA Lab at Oslo University College Learning Centre. It drew twelve participants, mainly librarians from Buskerud, and received good evaluations. The course, which was translated into Norwegian by Tord Høivik (May 2011), will be repeated in the autumn 2011. The module has recently been translated into German (June 2011). Ulla Wimmer introduced the module to officers of German library associations at an IFLA session during their national conference in June.

Future developments

The main tasks for the next couple of years are (1) to conduct more courses, (2) to develop more case studies.


Courses depend on local interest and capacity. At the moment of writing (July 15) I have just received news of a possible course in Poland, hosted by one of the regional public libraries, in the spring 2012. In Norway, interest in library statistics is quite strong. The potential for one or two courses in 2012 is high. We will market the course in San Juan and hope we will know more about local initiatives after the conference.


The cases have two main purposes (1) to provide data sets or practical exercises; (2) to illustrate different ways of utilizing statistical data in the library field.

The course needs to function in widely different statistical environments. We need examples that span the great differences in statistical quantity and quality between, say, Africa and most of Latin America, on the one hand, and Northern Europe, on the other. Many countries in the South have only rudimentary statistics at the national level. Here, librarians must start by gathering their own data. In the North, librarians can often build on a framework of national statistics. In this case they need awareness and better analysis of existing national data. At the same time they need (1) to push for further development of national systems, (2) to carry out small and highly focused studies in their own libraries and regions.

Only a small amount of case materials was available for the original course. In December 2010, Ulla Wimmer produced a set of case studies for public and academic libraries to be used with the module. In July 2011 Tord Høivik published a Norwegian case on the GLOSSA blog, showing The impact of community size on library operations.


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