RSS
 

Trying to measure a library’s success by its footfall is like…

19 Jan

… trying to count the number of people entering a country by only checking the airports, and ignoring those who come by sea or land.

It’s like trying to count book sales just based on what has been sold in the shops, and not online.

It’s like trying to measure BBC viewing figures without taking iPlayer into account.

It’s like trying to measure an album’s success just by CD sales, without taking downloads into account.

It’s like trying to measure a newspaper’s success just by physical sales, and not by use of the website.

It’s like trying to judge a supermarket’s success without taking into account online shopping.

It’s like ANY NUMBER OF THINGS WHERE THE CRITERIA ARE COMPLETELY INADEQUATE TO QUANTIFY SUCCESS OR OTHERWISE.

Picture of an angry man

How I feel.

Let’s settle this once and for all – as I’ve written before (PDF), and previous to that Ian Clark has written before, and any number of others have pointed out: library use has changed, people do stuff online now. People renew books online (around 40% of renewals happen online, according to my research – every single one of those is a visit to the library building saved), people reserve books online (around 18% of reservations happen online according to my research – every single one of those is a visit to the library building saved). And people access the library’s resources online – e-books, e-journals, e-newspapers, databases, and so on and so forth. Take my local library, in York – in three years, online user activity (which is to say, searches of online library resources – not ‘use of computers in the library’) has gone up by 9,385%. That’s over NINE THOUSAND PERCENT! So stop telling me that because less people visit the building, that means the library is being used less – it is a hopelessly anachronistic paradigm and no longer fit for purpose, damnit!

So thanks, BBC Breakfast, for your ill-considered piece this morning which did NOT take that into account (despite the best efforts of library campaigners who gave you their time), and was editorially led, rather than balanced.

Of course, this post is nothing more than an impotent rant that will be read only by Information Professionals who already know everything I’ve just said. Aaaaargh! How do we get this information beyond the echo chamber? How can we make people understand that footfall doesn’t cut it as a measurement of success on its own any more?

In the meantime, if you wish to make your feelings known to the BBC about the report, you can do so via the BBC’s feedback page. If we all do this it WILL make a difference.

-thewikiman

{lang: 'en-GB'}
Print Friendly
 

Tags: , , , , ,

Comments
  • Katy Wrathall January 19, 2011 at 10:44 AM

    via @theREALwikiman [Aaaargh! #savelibraries] Trying to measure a library's success by its footfall is like… – http://bit.ly/ibAkx4

  • Simon Barron January 19, 2011 at 10:50 AM

    RT @mstores: RT @theREALwikiman: Trying to measure a library's success just by its footfall is crazy http://bit.ly/ibAkx4 #savelibraries

  • Ned Potter January 19, 2011 at 10:53 AM

    w00t! German coverage. RT @Bittertwittan Några anledningar till att bibliotekens besöksstatistik har blivit irrelevant http://bit.ly/ibAkx4

  • Ned Potter January 19, 2011 at 10:54 AM

    w00t! RT @Bittertwittan Några anledningar till att bibliotekens besöksstatistik har blivit irrelevant http://bit.ly/ibAkx4

  • Mar January 19, 2011 at 10:58 AM

    RT @theREALwikiman: [Aaaargh! #savelibraries] Trying to measure a library's success by its footfall is like… http://bit.ly/ibAkx4 #fb

  • Girl in the Moon January 19, 2011 at 1:06 PM

    “How do we get this information beyond the echo chamber?”

    I wonder if there’s any hope of a Frank-Skinner style turnaround – invite Beeb to see all the different ways people are using libraries. I was going to say ‘invite them into a library’, but that’s precisely not the point!

    Katie

  • Library Web January 19, 2011 at 2:19 PM

    Also there is the point that individuals who make great leaps have often had input from their libraries — so although only sparodically does an individual make a great leap, these leaps would not happen if it weren’t for a full nationwide library service:

    @CILIPinfo Sir Andrew John Wiles famous for proving Fermat’s Last Theorem (he found out about it in a public library) http://awurl.com/tSY1wb3Rh #pling
    http://twitter.com/CILIPinfo/status/25941032898138112

    RT @ALALibrary Tween Tech Prodigy http://ow.ly/3FvBG Used his #library to learn about programming a game #savelibraries
    http://twitter.com/libraryweb/status/27394739791728640

    I’m sure a whole database of these could be put together.

  • Ned Potter January 19, 2011 at 2:46 PM

    Measuring a library's success by footfall is anachronistic and no longer fit for purpose: http://bit.ly/hHh90B #savelibraries

  • Lauren Smith January 19, 2011 at 2:51 PM

    RT @theREALwikiman: Measuring a library's success by footfall is anachronistic and no longer fit for purpose: http://bit.ly/hHh90B #save …

  • Jess Haigh January 19, 2011 at 2:54 PM

    RT @theREALwikiman: Measuring a library's success by footfall is anachronistic and no longer fit for purpose: http://bit.ly/hHh90B #save …

  • CILIP January 19, 2011 at 2:54 PM

    RT @theREALwikiman: Measuring a library's success by footfall is anachronistic and no longer fit for purpose: http://bit.ly/hHh90B #save …

  • Helen Murphy January 19, 2011 at 3:07 PM

    RT @theREALwikiman: Measuring a library's success by footfall is anachronistic and no longer fit for purpose: http://bit.ly/hHh90B #save …

  • Lucubrat January 19, 2011 at 3:17 PM

    “Angry Birds knocked off iPhone perch by 14-year-old’s game – written with help from mum and local library http://bit.ly/huzmUa“Tweeted by Guardian Tech, thought it was an interesting example of impact.

  • toonsarah January 19, 2011 at 4:01 PM

    @theREALwikiman And measuring it by quantity of book issues even more so? #savelibraries

  • theREALwikiman January 19, 2011 at 4:03 PM

    @toonsarah Yep.

  • Ned Potter January 19, 2011 at 9:05 PM

    RT @JenniferYellin: Exactly what I was shouting at the TV this morning – glad someone said it! RT @theREALwikiman: http://bit.ly/hHh90B

  • theREALwikiman January 20, 2011 at 11:48 AM

    Trying to measure a library’s success by its footfall is like… [add your own example here: http://thewikiman.org/blog/?p=1303

  • Ned Potter January 20, 2011 at 11:48 AM

    Trying to measure a library's success by its footfall is like… [add your own example here: http://bit.ly/hHh90B

  • theREALwikiman January 20, 2011 at 12:04 PM

    @myleejoseph Exactly.

  • speccollbrad January 20, 2011 at 11:53 AM

    @theREALwikiman so true! am blogging about this from spec colls angle later

  • Mylee Joseph January 20, 2011 at 12:55 PM

    Trying to measure a library’s success by its footfall is like…banks overlooking customers using internet banking services.

  • [...] I take your point that by only measuring what is happening in our physical library spaces, we are not taking account [...]

  • Stu January 25, 2011 at 12:18 PM

    I kinda just want to drop in to say ‘user activity has gone up by OVER 9000??’

    and you’ll either get it or you won’t :] hehe

  • Why I Love Libraries | A Fantastical Librarian October 16, 2012 at 12:40 PM

    [...] to enumerate those here, there are multitudes of great articles on that out there already, such as this post by fellow librarian Ned Potter, this speech by Philip Pullman, this Guardian article on the Twitter [...]

  • Post a comment

    Threaded commenting powered by interconnect/it code.