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Impact measures for libraries and information services

Roswitha Poll (University of Münster, Münster, Germany)
Philip Payne (Birkbeck College, University of London, London, UK)

Library Hi Tech

ISSN: 0737-8831

Article publication date: 1 October 2006



The purpose of this article is to demonstrate the importance of impact/outcome research in libraries.


The paper gives an overview of purposes and methods used in impact research and illustrates this through project experiences.


Various projects worldwide are trying to prove that use of library services can positively influence skills and competences, attitudes and behaviour of users. The benefits that users experience by using library services can be assessed in terms of knowledge gained, higher information literacy, higher academic or professional success, social inclusion, and increase in individual well‐being.

Research limitations/implications

The main problem of impact research is, that influences on an individual are manifold and that therefore it is difficult to trace changes and improvements back to the library. The paper shows methods that are tested and used at the present. More investigation is needed to identify methods that could be used to show a library's overall impact or to develop measures that would permit benchmarking between institutions.

Practical implications

The paper shows practical examples of impact assessment, covering “soft” methods like surveys, interviews, focus groups, observation and quantitative methods like tests, analysis of publications, or usage data.


The paper acquaints libraries with a topic that is not yet well known and, by showing practical examples, demonstrates how libraries can attempt to assess their impact.



Poll, R. and Payne, P. (2006), "Impact measures for libraries and information services", Library Hi Tech, Vol. 24 No. 4, pp. 547-562.



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Copyright © 2006, Emerald Group Publishing Limited