The 13th International Conference on Performance Measurement in Libraries was held from 23rd July to 25th July 2019 at Aberystwyth University in Wales. This Conference seeks to bring together practitioners interested in all aspects of performance and measurement in library and information services in any context. There were 121 attendees from 21 countries making it a small group with a mix of practitioners, researchers, students and others involved in the library sector.
What stood out for me in particular was that the Department of Library Services is on par with international libraries. Some of the hot topics under discussion at the Conference coincide with our new strategic focus areas such as user experience, spaces, data research management, data carpentry and open access. It is also apparent that funding is getting tight everywhere and everyone is mindful of how money is spent.
One of the most important recommendations that I would like to make is that we need new software to capture our statistics. We were amazed to see the business analytics tools utilized by other libraries, which will totally change the way we think about data. These tools bring together all the library data so that users and especially library executive and senior members can freely search and explore the data to make new connections. Where possible data should be pushed into the business analytics tool automatically. Tools that our Quality Assurance office should investigate for possible use include Qlik Sense, Tableau and Power BI.
These two powerful quotes from Prof Konrad Förstner, joint professor for information literacy at the Technical University and ZB MED in Cologne summarizes the road ahead for librarians: “Formal education is helpful but only one part of the solution. Be brave, connect, learn continuously, practice, play with technology.” and “Librarians should be a little more creative and not just be conservative and preserve, we also need to look to the future and embrace change.”
The visits to King’s College London and the University of Oxford were also extremely valuable. The networking with colleagues from their quality assurance offices gave Zenzi Msweli and me the opportunity to ask questions about the kind of data they capture, how they capture it and to see the data visualization tools that they are using. These benchmarking visits serve as an inspiration to investigate new methods and tools to capture our library statistics and to apply current best standards of practice at the Department of Library Services.
I am extremely grateful for being given this travel opportunity with Zenzi Msweli and we will cherish the moments we spent there together forever!
On the rooftop of the University of Oxford
The beautuful Old College where the gala dinner was held