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European academic libraries Key Performance Indicators (KPI): How comparison helps decision making

Cecile Swiatek (ADBU, Paris, France)

Performance Measurement and Metrics

ISSN: 1467-8047

Article publication date: 25 November 2019

Issue publication date: 3 December 2019




The French academic libraries directors association (ADBU) launched and updated a European comparative study on Key Performance Indicators (KPI) in Academic Libraries over the 2013–2017 period. The purpose of this paper is to briefly present the ADBU initiative; its main focus is how to use these figures to ground decision making process, notably so as to better assess the contribution of libraries in student success or research performance.


As universities and academic libraries are facing research evolutions and teaching/learning new models, a strong increase in students’ number is observed everywhere in Europe. This trend will most probably continue in the coming years and the pressure on academic libraries will grow. That is why the French ADBU took the initiative to launch a European comparative study on key and performance indicators in Academic Libraries over the 2013–2016 period. Data were updated in 2019, covering 2017 figures and including additional countries.


Thanks to the European partners and the help of a consultant firm, the first observations were updated with the 2017 figures and the country scope grew broader. Libraries buildings and equipment, space and seats per student, opening days and hours, frequentation rate, library services, users training, staff per student/documentary budgets/total expenditure, staff training, documentation loans/consultation/downloads: these KPI are gathered and can be compared in both relative and absolute value.


The ADBU initiative is unique, results are widely shared.



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


Swiatek, C. (2019), "European academic libraries Key Performance Indicators (KPI): How comparison helps decision making", Performance Measurement and Metrics, Vol. 20 No. 3, pp. 143-158.



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