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Archive for the ‘Social Value’ Category

On Tuesday I attended the annual CILIP Umbrella conference for the first time. I had been invited by LIRG to present the findings of my literature review on methodologies for measuring the value of public libraries. Here’s a link to my presentation and a link to the final paper; and a selection of links to interesting library valuation studies that I’ve published on Voices for the Library.

I had a great time at the conference.  Lots of networking opportunities, lively debates and friendly faces.  Hoping to return next year 🙂

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The Library and Information Research Group (LIRG) has just published my article on methods for demonstrating the value of public libraries.  The article provides a  literature review of existing quantitative and qualitative evaluation methodologies for demonstrating value across a variety of sectors and analyses the pros and cons of:

  • Auditing
  • Return on Investment Studies

    © Christine Rooney-Browne 2011

  • Social Impact Audits
  • Ethnography
  • Tracking Surveys
  • Customer Profiling
There’s a lot of really interesting case studies in the article and I’m sure some of the methodologies could help us to develop more appropriate models for measuring our own value!

I’ll also be presenting on this topic at the annual Umbrella Conference on 12th July 2011 at the University of Hertfordshire in Hatfield.    So, if you’re interested in demonstrating the value of public libraries pop along to my session at 11.45am 🙂



					

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I’m down in Leeds at the moment for a workshop on Measuring the Value of Public Libraries: The fallacy of footfall and issues as measures of Public Libraries. I’m really excited because I’ll be participating in a group Delphi session for the first time ever.We’ll be working on developing appropriate methods for evaluating the value and impact of public libraries. There will also be talks by Annie Mauger (CILIP), Roy Clare (MLA), Dr Adam Cooper (DCMS & CASE), Carolynn Rankin (Leeds Met).The delegate list also adds to the excitement.  Lots of interesting people participating, including Bob Usherwood! And as anyone who reads this blog knows, his research in the area of social impact & public libraries has been an inspiration to me. I can’t wait to meet him in person!

Although my own research in this area has shown that a perfect methodology for measuring the value of public libraries does not exist we’ll hopefully come up with more appropriate methods than those that are in place just now.   I’m off to work on the Individual Delphi questions before tomorrow’s session.  I’ll let you all know how it goes! 🙂

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Newcastle City Library at night

One of the most inspiring sessions at The Edge 2010 conference came from Tony Durcan, Head of Culture, Libraries & Lifelong Learning, Newcastle Council; and Councillor John Shipley, Leader of Newcastle Council.   Tony and John talked about Newcastle’s new City Library: a 7 year PFI development project costing £24m and resulting in a fantastic new library for the people of Newcastle; a public space boasting 8,300 square metres of books, PCs, resources, advice; and a café, of course.  The new library opened in November 2009 and by the end of January 2010 reported impressive figures:

  • 792.000 visitors – 35,000 new members – 396,000 items loaned

Undoubtedly Newcastle’s new library is a huge success and I think that’s partly to do with Tony Durcan’s infectious enthusiasm coupled with strong support from Cllr John Shipley.  I don’t think I’ve ever come across a Council Leader who has spoken so passionately about the value of public libraries.    He just ‘gets it!’ And following his positive and inspiring talk there were calls from the audience  to ‘clone him’ 🙂

Here’s a few gems of wisdom from John’s talk (I’ve paraphrased):

  • If we want to build social  inclusion in our communities we need to build libraries where people want to be
  • City centres without free public spaces, like libraries, are only welcoming to those who have cash to spend
  • Governments should invest in public libraries because it’s the right thing to do!
  • Everyone in society can participate in the public library experience: it’s a majority service rather than a minority service
  • We shouldn’t be shy about demanding extra expenditure because public libraries are cheap & lead to a more inclusive society which leads to lowered costs elsewhere on things like crime, health, education…
  • We need to stop focussing on statistics because they reveal nothing about the true value of the public library
  • We need to make a stronger case for our public libraries – if we can communicate value successfully then politicians will invest!

I think he’s telling us that ‘the ball’s in our court’.  And in order to secure the future of public libraries WE need to make the case for our libraries; challenge misconceptions and communicate value – in a language that those holding the purse strings can easily understand!

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Public Libraries in the 21st Century (C) Christine Rooney-Browne

Public Libraries in the 21st Century (C) Christine Rooney-Browne

Just thought I’d share a couple of presentations that I delivered at two different conferences last week.

First up is my keynote presentation from the SINTO lecture in Sheffield;  “A Look at the Role of Public Libraries in Times of Recession

And secondly, a joint presentation between myself and Liz McGettigan from Edinburgh City Libraries at the annual Internet Librarian International Conference in London; “A Joined Up Approach to Social Media”.

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One of my favourite parts of any conference is always the poster sessions.  This is the time when you get an opportunity to experience (all in one place) the wide variety of library projects and research initiatives happening all over the world.

Poster sessions are always very busy so I made sure that I arrived early in order to speak to as many presenters as possible.  There were some stunning posters on display, but it’s not until you get a chance to speak to the presenter about their project that you get a proper feel for their research or the work that they’ve carried out over the last year.

The three posters highlighted below really caught my attention:

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Marvel Maring, USA

Casting a Net from Nebraska to Nicaragua – highlighting the impact of a project between the University of Nebraska library school and a library school in Nicaragua.  This project is an excellent example of the role libraries can play in building social capital; and their potential in delivering value through partnership working. Presenter: Marvel Maring (USA).

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Máximo Moreno Grez, Chile

Chileans Networking towards the Bicentennial – an inspirational project about citizens from small communities in Chile creating their own websites by uploading user generated content via PCs provided by the local library. Presenter: Máximo Moreno Grez (Chile).

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Tina Mortensen, Denmark

Read it, Show it, Promote it – provided some quirky ideas for public libraries to reach non-users, increase visitor numbers, and make the library a fun and interactive, rather than passive experience. Presenters: Michael Larsen and Tina Mortensen (Denmark).

Please note that it was quite noisy and very busy during the poster session, so apologies if I’ve misinterpreted any of these posters. Apologies also for the quality of the photos, which were taken on my iPhone3G.

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Although it’s still early days in terms of official research, public libraries are emerging once again as recession sanctuaries;  providing vital services, in times of economic crisis.

Brighton-and-Hove-Recession

I recently presented on this very topic at the Society of Chief Librarian’s (SCL) Conference at the University of Warwick.  (Presentation available via my SlideShare page, click here).  Attending the conference was a fantastic experience as I was able to chat to delegates about the impact that the recession has had on their library services; how they’re managing to deliver high quality services despite ongoing budget cuts; and the innovative ways that they’re promoting their services to users, including this inspired poster from Brighton & Hove….

During the Q&A session for my presentaion I noted a strong desire from many delegates to explore Web 2.0 and social media.  Unfortunately, however, many are unable to implement their Web 2.0 plans due to restrictions imposed on them by council-wide IT departments and their filtering policies (click here for a previous blog post about Glasgow City Libraries & internet filtering).  A shame really, given that other authorities, with slightly more liberal approaches to web 2.0 are able to forge ahead, creating interactive and collaborative spaces for library users to visit online (e.g. Manchester Libraries).

Seems unfair that public library users and staff, many of whom could benefit greatly from accessing web 2.0 and  social media sites are being prevented from doing so as a  result of a web 2.0 postcode lottery.  Wouldn’t it be great if all public library services across the UK were at the same operational level with web 2.0 and social media…before we have to deal with the challenges and possibilities that web 3.0 presents? Just a thought! 🙂

Twitter Feed - SCL Conference 09 - #scl &#scl09

Twitter Feed - SCL Conference 09 - #scl & #scl09

There were lots of other topics discussed over the two days and to highlight some of the burning issues I’ve created a word cloud, using Wordle, based on keywords from the Twitter feed (see above).

If you’re keen to find out more about the role of public libraries in times of recession then why not click here to check out my recently published article “Rising to the Challenge”,  featured in the latest edition of Library Review.

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