Applying Performance Measurement to Safeguard Budgets: Qualitative and Quantitative Measurement of Electronic Journal Packages

Killick, Selena (2013). Applying Performance Measurement to Safeguard Budgets: Qualitative and Quantitative Measurement of Electronic Journal Packages. In: Proceedings of the 2012 Library Assessment Conference. Building Effective, Sustainable, Practical Assessment (Hiller, Steve; Kyrillidou, Martha; Pappalardo, Angela; Self, Jim and Yeager, Amy eds.), Association of Research Libraries, Washington, DC., pp. 731–735.



In the current financial climate effective performance measurement has become a vital tool for library managers. This paper presents a case study from Cranfield University in the United Kingdom on qualitative and quantitative techniques employed to measure the performance of electronic resources. Cranfield University Libraries have developed a process for systematic and sustainable assessment of its electronic resources. Initially focused on electronic journal packages, the process enables the library service to demonstrate smart procurement to key stakeholders.

Quantitative key performance indicators were developed based on the COUNTER usage statistics, internal financial information and population data. A systematic process for capturing, storing and analyzing usage data was developed. In order to make the process sustainable a template was created to calculate all derived metrics and present the key performance indicators in a format suitable for senior stakeholders.

It was soon discovered that quantitative measures alone would not enable the library to fully assess the performance of the collection. Through academic liaison interviews the library staff embarked upon a process to capture the qualitative information pertinent to the resources. A template was used for each package documenting who is using the resource, how they are using it, and what impact any cancellation would have on the strategic goals of the organization.

The combined approach of both quantitative metrics and qualitative factors enabled the library to effectively demonstrate the value of the electronic journal packages. The results were successfully used to lobby against a proposed resources cut, safeguarding the electronic journals from budget reductions. Lessons learnt from the development of the process along with next steps are presented.

This paper will be of interest to those involved in library collection management and library staff with a remit in performance measurement. In particular it may assist the development of deeper understanding of measuring the value and impact of electronic library collections, and will also therefore be of value to all those concerned with library strategy and development.

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