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Social impact of Polish public libraries: Quantitative research instrument and preliminary findings

Magdalena Paul (Department of Journalism, Information and Book Studies, University of Warsaw, Warsaw, Poland)

Performance Measurement and Metrics

ISSN: 1467-8047

Article publication date: 25 November 2019

Issue publication date: 3 December 2019




The purpose of this paper is to present the methodological issues around developing a quantitative research instrument of the social impact of Polish public libraries. The results of the use of this instrument to survey users of Mazovian Province, Poland, are summarized as an example of its use.


The research focused on informational, educational and participatory aspects of social impact on the sidelines leaving cultural heritage issues. “Impact” and “social impact” were defined according to ISO 16439:2014. Information and documentation – methods and procedures for assessing the impact of libraries. The research instrument included questions both about the activities taken in libraries by its users and the benefits they gained. The questionnaire also contained questions which allowed to control the variables such as frequency of using libraries, socioeconomic factors and cultural practices. To describe dependencies, various statistical tests were applied. The study was conducted on the group of 1,098 users of 38 public libraries between February and June 2017.


Younger and people from smaller towns felt more benefits from using libraries. There are significant differences between types of benefits people of various age, financial status and household size experienced. People who went to libraries and other cultural institutions often experienced more benefits. The more a person performs activities in libraries, the more benefits he or she has. Some added value of particular activities is also visible.

Research limitations/implications

Despite the efforts and the size of the sample, it is not representative of the population of library users in the Mazovian Province (mainly due to the data collection method – auditory survey).


Studying the social impact of the libraries in Poland is still at its beginning. The presented research is, therefore, exploratory in terms of cognitive and methodological value.



This paper was originally presented at the 13th International Conference on Performance Measurement in Libraries (LibPMC) held in Aberystwyth, Wales, July 23–25, 2019.


Paul, M. (2019), "Social impact of Polish public libraries: Quantitative research instrument and preliminary findings", Performance Measurement and Metrics, Vol. 20 No. 3, pp. 168-178.



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