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Quality in museums and libraries: a comparison of indicators

Roswitha Poll ( University of Münster , Münster, Germany)

Performance Measurement and Metrics

ISSN: 1467-8047

Article publication date: 14 May 2018

Issue publication date: 7 August 2018




The purpose of this paper is to define quality criteria for museum work and try to identify indicators for assessing such quality, using the well-known quality indicators for libraries as basis of comparison.


In 2016, the first international standard for museum statistics was published (ISO 18461). At the same time, the museum community realized the need to proceed from statistics to quality assessment in order to prove the effectiveness and efficiency of museum performance and finally also the influence of museums on society. The paper analyses the existing literature on museum quality and museum evaluation and compares the findings to the established methods in the library sector.


Comparison of quality criteria and quality evaluation in museums and libraries shows not only many similarities in what is regarded as quality, but also considerable differences in the options for assessment.

Research limitations/implications

The paper shows a tentative selection of potential quality indicators and quality assessment methods for museums. Further work and practical expertise will be needed for developing and testing a reliable set of methods. The new ISO project 21246 key indicators for museums will further this development.

Practical implications

There is an evident similarity in the mission and goals of cultural institutions such as archives, libraries and museums. Methods already in use in libraries for assessing performance quality and library impact can therefore also be useful in the museum sector. But the immense variety of museums requires an adaptation of existing methods and a number of new indicators especially devised for museum tasks.


The paper describes possible solutions for evaluating the quality of museums. As quality criteria are similar in museums and libraries, new quality indicators for museums may in turn become useful in the library sector.



Poll, R. (2018), "Quality in museums and libraries: a comparison of indicators", Performance Measurement and Metrics, Vol. 19 No. 2, pp. 90-100.



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