Measuring Success and Improving Services: Learning from Other Libraries

About two years ago, Library Services implemented a performance metrics board in order to assess particular services and resources. Currently, we measure material usage, interlibrary loan turnaround time, social media engagement, and NIH compliance. We review and discuss the data weekly seeking to continually improve our processes and services. It’s an exciting journey for the team; a journey that will ultimately benefit our patrons.

SLA – San Diego Chapter Fall Seminar

Back in late October, I attended the Special Libraries Association (SLA) San Diego Chapter Fall Seminar on evaluation and assessment. The seminar, titled Forging Forward: Techniques & Technologies for Gauging Success, featured several presentations pertinent to our department’s current focus on performance metrics. Highlights included:

  • the seminar’s key note speaker, Joe Matthews, discussing using evaluation as a stepping stone to higher quality services;
  • Carolyn Norman’s talk on the quality of reference services; and
  • Cindy Shamel’s presentation on setting yourself up for success.

Takeaways included benchmarking your data to help set appropriate goals and targets; the importance of surveys; and utilizing the right types of measures when analyzing your performance. I’m working to take this new knowledge and look for ways to incorporate it into our board and our rounding activity.

Since the SLA seminar, I have been researching process improvement efforts in libraries, utilizing such books as Managing with Data and Getting Started with Evaluation. Many libraries are just beginning to use evidence-based decision making, so this is an exciting time to engage in these practices.


Poster Image

In January,  I presented a poster outlining our journey towards operational excellence titled “Performance Metrics in the Lee Graff Medical & Scientific Library” at the MLGSCA/NCNMLG Joint Meeting. The poster highlighted our process improvement program and how we’ve designed it to be:

  • aligned with broader organizational efforts;
  • goal driven and measurable; and
  • benchmarked against our peers.

The presentation was met with enthusiasm and plenty of questions. It was a wonderful opportunity to connect with peers and also learn about their efforts.

If you’d like to see our assessment board, please stop by. I, along with my Library Services colleagues, would be happy to walk you through our data and what improvements we’ve made in the last quarter.


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