The Value of Libraries: Highlights from an OLA 2010 Session (3 of 4)
Posted by mejwalker on 2010/03/16
Reported by Mary-Elizabeth Walker, MLIS
Libraries and information centres are constantly seeking ways to increase their visibility and demonstrate their value to the larger organization. Melanie Browne, an information specialist at Maple Leaf Foods, recently presented a conference session on this topic during the OLA Superconference. For the benefit of those who were not able to attend, some take-aways from that talk will appear on this blog, in four posts.
*Remember that the value of the library is more apparent when it helps the organization meet its goals. Consider how your library does this and how it lets others know about it!
*The organization gains a competitive advantage by managing its assets effectively and efficiently. Highlight the ways the library helps to make the organization more effective and efficient. Some examples include:
- increasing productivity by making important information easy to find
- providing the necessary information in a timely manner
- bringing together separate silos of the organization, e.g., consolidating company-wide subscriptions, buying as a consortia, working to decrease the overall cost of subscriptions
Measuring the impact
*Measure and track contributions to organizational goals, because these are the ones that will impress the organization
*Measure and evaluate using different methods. Don’t just use circulation counts. Conduct surveys, have focus groups, use benchmarking. Find out what outside consultants would cost to provide the necessary information services for a project and then compare that to what it cost for the library to do it. Calculate how much money and time has been saved by consolidating company-wide subscriptions.
*Keep track of how the information you provide is used. That means knowing why someone is requesting the information and then following up to see what was done with it. If it leads to a great innovation, the library contributed to that!
*Keep in mind the way the rest of the organization is measured. If they are using Six Sigma, then the library should use that terminology and method of measuring as far as possible.
*Communicate your contributions!
- Bring them up in meetings with organizational leaders
- Publish them on your website
- Include them in the internal newsletters
- If you helped with an innovation, encourage the people who used your services to point out their impact to their bosses
Strouse, R. (2001). The value of libraries: justifying corporate information centers in the year of accountability. Information about information briefing 4 (10).
Next part: The value of experiences