How would you test the efficiency and effectiveness of your library?

At first sight, this might appear to be a simple question especially to some of our librarians, if we can call them ‘Librarians’. The simple answer for these people would be ‘statistics’. Yes indeed, “let’s count how many people come to the library and if there are 500 users per day, this means we are efficient and effective” these Librarians would say. But, we must ask ourselves, since librarians are supposed to be  intelligent people, whether simply ‘counting your number of users’ is sufficient. What if the 500 users who came to your library weren’t at all satisfied with your service or weren’t able to effectively use your database and preferred to seek the required information elsewhere? Would you call this an achievement of the year? I suspect ‘no’. This is not to say that statistics are useless but on the other hand, statistics should be used intelligently. Whilst carrying out any survey, of whatever type, we should bear in mind both the quantitative as well as the qualitative aspects. Quantity is not enough but must be supplemented by quality so that you can get a good picture of whether your library and its services are really efficient and effective. The following are some of the main aspects that should be taken into consideration when trying to find out whether or not your library is efficient and effective:

1. The people – that is, whether your technology is adapted to their needs and preferences. What are their specific information needs and information-seeking behaviour?

2. The technology – that is, whether your library is evolving with the current technological advancements, which is by the way, far from being the case in Mauritius.

3. The human-information interaction – that is, how do your users interact with the information.

and lastly, we would add statistics to the list.

To conclude, we can say that if we really want to test something’s efficiency and effectiveness, it is better to do it as completely as possible rather than simply jumping to the simplest available method which is ‘statistics’ and which won’t tell us much apart from the number of users coming your library. Lastly, it would be a time and energy wasted uselessly and you would be making a fool of yourself and of your library.



One Response to “How would you test the efficiency and effectiveness of your library?”

  1. Ibrahim Says:

    According to one of the experts in performance evaluation of library services, the traditional quantitative statistics compiled and maintained by libraries are the easiest and the least meaningful/useful ones. Unfortunately, this is exactly what our library managers have been doing here also in Mauritius. On top of that, they claim to be the best qualified and gifted professionals. What an irony !
    The evaluation of library services calls for both quantitative and qualitative surveys in order to obtain a more exact picture of the strengths and weaknesses with a view to bring corrective actions.

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