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Seven stories of performativity and advocacy: a review of the published work of Stephen Town

Sheila Corrall (Department of Information Culture and Data Stewardship, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA)

Performance Measurement and Metrics

ISSN: 1467-8047

Article publication date: 11 July 2016



Stephen Town has been a thought leader and change agent in the academic library world for more than 20 years, who has produced a very large body of work in the areas of quality management and performance measurement that has been disseminated internationally. Town’s retirement from full-time employment at the University of York provides a timely opportunity to review his contribution to the field. The purpose of this paper is to discuss this issue.


The review outlines Town’s career path and professional interests and then appraises his published output, concentrating on his contributions to thinking and practice in the areas of benchmarking, information literacy, service quality, and measuring the value and impact of academic libraries and information services. The discussion is organized thematically to illustrate the evolution and development of his interests and ideas over the review period and also references-related work by other authors to set his work in context.


The study found many examples of innovative and creative work that had influenced thinking and practice in the library profession, including the development of models, frameworks, and tools with the potential to improve the effectiveness of service benchmarking, information literacy education, library advocacy, relationship management, staff evaluation, and impact measurement.

Research limitations/implications

The volume of published work necessitated some selectivity in the material covered, but the review provides sufficiently comprehensive coverage of the areas specified to represent the work effectively.


Town has produced a substantial number of publications as a practitioner-researcher that have not previously been reviewed independently as a coherent body of work.



Corrall, S. (2016), "Seven stories of performativity and advocacy: a review of the published work of Stephen Town", Performance Measurement and Metrics, Vol. 17 No. 2, pp. 99-121.



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