The purpose of this paper is to describe the different positions and roles that German research libraries may have in their funding organizations: center or periphery, making a change with respect to the overall strategy or having just a strategy of their own; having strong communication links to the top management or just to their users.
Since 2008, the Joint Science Conference (Gemeinsame Wissenschaftskonferenz (GWK)) in Germany deals with all questions of research funding, science and research policy strategies and the science system which jointly affect the Federal Government and the Länder. For the big four German national research societies (Max-Planck, Helmhold, Fraunhofer, Leibnitz), the GWK formulated a set of performance indicators that are used to compare the different societies in a monitoring report published every year. Interestingly, there are several aspects affecting the libraries and their services and products, but the performance of the libraries (approximately 200) is not clearly mentioned.
An exemplary matrix is developed that can be adapted by all research libraries to show to which extent the research library is able to support and influence the level of different performance indicators and thereby to contribute to the overall goal of the organization. A graduated traffic light system is used to highlight which contributions in which areas can be expected from the research library.
Research libraries are usually quite different from each other and there are not many tools to compare their contributions and to show their performance to the management level. In this paper, a method to show the influence and impact in the German research context is used, which may not be applicable to other countries with other research structures.
The paper identifies the importance of playing an essential role in the fulfillment of the overall strategic goals of the funding organization, especially for research libraries as there are usually special metrics to compare the big scientific research organizations in Germany.
It is shown that there are simple ways to derive strategic goals and key figures and translate them into a benchmark and even use existing reports and systems.
The value of research libraries has usually been seen as supporting the research process for the users in the best possible way. As more competition arises between different research institutions or societies, the role of the library with respect to the contribution to the stakeholder’s strategy opens up another perspective.
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, July 31-August 2, 2017, Oxford, UK. Guest Edited by Professor Judith Broady-Preston (Aberystwyth University) and Dr Frankie Wilson (Bodleian Library).
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