Surveying the State of Library Statistics and
Metrics - Internationally
Defining New Metrics for Library Success
April 22, 2014
● Characteristics of libraries
● Characteristics of library data
● Uses we put to library data
● Tour of library data sites
● New measures/metrics
Libraries have characteristics
● Type: public, academic, school, special...
● Skewed distributions
● Libraries have dynamic environments
– Hence, variables are harder to measure
– It takes about two or three years to get trustworthy numbers
– It is easier to measure static things
Library data have characteristics - 1
● Method of publication/presentation
– print to digitized (PDF) to spreadsheets or csv
● Provenance: governments or associations
● Availability: free or pay
● National-level or local
● Universe or samples
● Annual/regular or one-time?
Uses of Library data
● Beat funding agencies over the head
– A constant: rank tables, peer comparisons
● As an index to libraries like mine
● Rarely: research
– What works?
– Search for cause and/or prediction
Pause for a sec…
In the Librarians’ house, there are many mansions
We are not enemies
● There have been improvements...too slowly...in aspects of
the library data world to address the challenges we face.
● BUT, we have never used what data we have
● Many stories ….
● We do not have a critical mass of people skilled with data
work and have failed to recruit these kinds of people.
● Now we are looking for new numbers
– Which will, of course, be perfect
Fork 1: Meanwhile….
The people who run whatever we call the libraries
of the future will be numerate.
In fact, they already are…
And us in the LIS community?
Fork 2: and I quote:
“The existence of a body of data, especially one
that is fairly comprehensive and
longitudinal, can distract people from real