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Narratives and stories that capture the library’s worth: A qualitative approach to measuring value and impact in New Zealand’s libraries

Philip Calvert (Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand)
Anne Goulding (Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand)

Performance Measurement and Metrics

ISSN: 1467-8047

Article publication date: 9 November 2015

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to report the results of a study exploring New Zealand library managers’ views on the purpose, outcomes and approaches to measuring library economic value and social impact.

Design/methodology/approach

Semi-structured interviews with library managers drawn from a purposive sample were undertaken in four main centres in New Zealand.

Findings

Analysis of the interviews suggest that library managers do not feel under immediate direct pressure to provide evidence of the value and impact of their services but feel that it is important to have data available if required. There was some scepticism about the validity of quantitative data collected and some uncertainty about how to interpret and communicate it for the best outcome for the service. Strong support for qualitative “stories” or narratives was a feature of the interviews.

Research limitations/implications

This was a small scale study, limited to just four centres in the North Island of New Zealand.

Practical implications

Library managers may want to consider systematic methods of collecting narrative data to support quantitative data. They could also reflect on how to communicate value and impact data and information proactively, using alternative communication strategies and tools such as social media.

Originality/value

There have been no previous studies of library managers’ views of measuring the value and impact of libraries in New Zealand. The focus on the purpose and outcomes of measurement in the New Zealand context is also original.

Keywords

Citation

Calvert, P. and Goulding, A. (2015), "Narratives and stories that capture the library’s worth: A qualitative approach to measuring value and impact in New Zealand’s libraries", Performance Measurement and Metrics, Vol. 16 No. 3, pp. 276-288. https://doi.org/10.1108/PMM-05-2015-0016

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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