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Using data to strategically deploy staffing resources

Michael Williams (Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK)

Library Management

ISSN: 0143-5124

Article publication date: 11 June 2018



The environmentally controlled library warehouse stores ten million collection items and its team of staff provides a delivery service to the students and researchers. Statistics show that the demand for the service was much higher than the forecast at the design stage and, as a result, the operationally intensive environment had bottlenecks and backlogs, which were affecting the service-level agreements. It was clear that the staffing levels were inadequate to meet the demand, so there was a need to capture data to enable evidence-based decision making to restructure and supplement staffing. The paper aims to discuss these issues.


Each of the activities undertaken by staff were observed and timed over extended periods, which resulted in detailed measurements for each elemental task. On the basis of known demand for services, the author was able to extrapolate these measurements to model the demand on services and, therefore, the staffing requirement for a whole year.


The author was able to provide evidence to show that the levels of staffing were inadequate and two further full-time equivalent staff were required. The data also highlighted specific areas that required higher and lower levels of resourcing than those were currently provided.


The research was motivated by operational need in an environment where meeting service-level agreements is a key performance indicator. The methods can be applied to many library activities and are especially applicable to repetitive or high-intensity tasks. It is equally valuable in library operations where there is a perception that staffing levels are inadequate but it is not clear how additional staffing should be deployed.



This paper forms part of a special section: “Communicating value and leadership: from strategic to micro assessment”: Papers from the 12th International Conference on Performance Measurement in Libraries, 31 July-2 August 2017, Oxford, UK are Guest Edited by Professor Judith Broady-Preston (Aberystwyth University) and Dr Frankie Wilson (Bodleian Library).


Williams, M. (2018), "Using data to strategically deploy staffing resources", Library Management, Vol. 39 No. 3/4, pp. 166-171.



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