One of the assumptions that librarians make is that the value of our services is self-evident. We see the value every day, but we take it for granted that others (ones who have a say over library budgets, for example) see things our way.
How do we justify our existence to our stakeholders? Do we present numbers from usage reports? Do we present anecdotal evidence? What can we use to incontrovertibly prove our worth to those who hold our fates in their hands?
As mentioned in Measuring Points, my office has trying to determine what usage data that we’ve collected best shows the success of our electronic resources platform. The conclusion we came to is that, while we have a lot of good data, we need to make some tweaks to improve their quality.
Certainly, it should be easy enough to enhance the data we get from the systems we built ourselves. We can also use code to improve the type of data that we collect using Google Analytics.
We don’t have a say in the types of data we get from our resource providers. We can (and have been) requesting additional reports beyond the canned ones in the client services modules. Some of these reports exist, some have become enhancement requests. Honestly, not all of the reports we’ve asked for would be useful to other clients, so it’s probably easier for our reps to just run them when we ask for them.
There are other types of analysis that we can do to enhance the data we already have. We’re going to do cost analysis reports from a couple of different angles to figure out where we’re getting bang for our buck and where we can get more bang.
We also need to do more analysis of qualitative data, but we have to figure out how to get it. There’s a central system where spaces in the field report on their work and activities, and just about all of the items related to our platform that have been submitted are about training sessions. I’m glad to see the training, but as we enter the fifth year of this project, I really want to see more about how users are using the resources.
That is going to be our biggest challenge moving forward, because, while the hard numbers can be impressive, they don’t measure the impact the resources have had on our users. And that is really what is going to show the value of our services.