The public libraries’ online activities have changed considerably since the establishment of the Library Index in 2009. Increasingly the libraries are using the internet in a more versatile way and targeting communication and services at certain specific groups, needs and situations. Also electronic materials have gained a firmer footing since 2009, both in terms of what is on offer and in terms of usage. In 2011 the Library Index will be developed further with a number of new measuring and benchmark functio- nalities that will enable Danish libraries to learn from and handle the online business.
From domain to activity-based figures
The use of campaign sites, blogs and other social media means that the library’s online activity does not only take place on a main site as it used to do, but is spread around the internet or happens in partnerships with other institutions. One library may perhaps have established a blog on WordPress. com where the music librarian can more easily promote music and create a dialogue with the users. A special site for a local book festival could also be an example of online ventures that are now being measured. It is now possible to measure this type of activities and they will establish themselves on a par with the library’s other sites.
The development of the Library Index also makes it possible to group content into a number of categories which will be uniform all over the country – for example ‘search’, ‘mediation’, ‘event’. This will make benchmarking easier because the libraries can now be compared on the basis of content and not only on the slightly anonymous total figure.
The real-time library
All in all the libraries possess a large number of transaction data which each in their different ways represent a great potential for learning in the libraries. The figures from the Library Index are often only used in annual reports aimed at management and politicians, but the activity- based approach to measuring enables the libraries to better exploit these data for creating learning and using them operationally from day to day.
The development of the Library Index provides the oppor- tunity, for example, to follow popular searches in the library base in order to spot user trends across the country. Searches are a performance indicator that tells you something about which subjects the users think the libraries can elucidate, and by comparing the searches with the collections it is also an indicator of to which extent the libraries are able to meet the user’s expectations.
The development project will mean that the use of licensed resources (databases, e-books etc.) can be monitored collectively, centrally and right across the country. In Denmark a large number of different suppliers deliver online materials and enable everyone to locally extract consumer figures from the systems, but a collective overview from day to day will make it possible to benchmark campaigns and strategies both between libraries, but also internally in the local organisation.
Platform for strategic thinking in everyday life
The development project is not only about more technology, more indicators and more benchmarking. It is also a question of the competences of library staff. The digital library opens up for an increasing flow of knowledge about what actually happens when the library meets the user, but one must practice using this knowledge to create learning and innovation. The technological development is therefore being followed up by a number of courses.
The expectation is that the development project will make the Library Index the strategic platform from which we will be arguing in favour of selection or de-selection, developing our mediation initiatives and altogether creating a better online product for our users.
Head of Development Gentofte Libraries
than AT Gentofte.dk
Translated by Vibeke Cranfield