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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2006, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
This is the first of several issues to be dedicated to presenting Keynote speeches and seminar papers from the 6th Northumbria International Conference on Performance Measurement in Libraries and Information Services, which took place in August, 2005, in Durham, UK. It was again, by all accounts, a most successful and enjoyable three days, which embraced both intellectual stimulation and welcome relaxation in beautiful surroundings. Around 100 delegates from 25 countries attended the conference to debate “The impact and outcomes of library and information services: performance measurement for a changing information environment”. Most delegates were from the academic library, research and teaching sector, with public libraries also well represented. For the first time paper presenters included delegates from China, Japan, India, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Croatia, who joined presenters from the USA, Australia, Hong Kong, Finland, Italy, Estonia, New Zealand, Egypt, Denmark, Spain, South Africa, Germany, Netherlands, Canada, Switzerland, Sweden and the UK. Keynote Speakers were from Australia, Germany, the USA and the UK. So again, we at Northumbria were thrilled both by the truly, and widening, international flavour of the conference, which again testifies to the worldwide interest in performance measurement in our sector and also by the conference’s enduring reputation for collegiality. Delegates’ comments to the team included “everybody is here; this is the place to be for the very best in PM”, and “the sense of community is outstanding”. How pleased we are, and thank you to all who attended; and, for their sponsorship, to Emerald, who will also publish the full Proceedings; and to the School of Computing, Engineering and Information Sciences at Northumbria University. The conference was an official IFLA satellite event. We will look forward to seeing you all again in two years’ time, when PM7 will be hosted in South Africa.
The main themes around which Keynote speeches and seminar papers were clustered, were:
Methodologies and their application.
The electronic environment.
International contexts and practice.
“Other” contexts, e.g. museums, health service, national and special libraries.
The next several issues of the Journal will aim to present a mixture of these themes, as usual from a range of national and international contexts and authors. This issue consists of five papers, including one Keynote speech. The papers each combine several of the conference’s themes. Three focus on aspects of theory development; two present practical experiences of implementing theory in the higher education sector, both in the UK and Sweden; two have national contexts set in Australia and Florida, and one is a fascinating study in comparative librarianship.
The first paper is Sue Henczel’s Keynote speech, which examines three types of measurement and evaluation currently used in the special (corporate, government, hospital etc.) library environment and identifies the relationships that must exist between the individual measurement processes to enable holistic and strategic evaluations of special libraries to take place. Sue is Manager (Training and Consortia) for CAVAL Collaborative Solutions, a consortium of Australian universities, and particularly promotes the close alignment of library based information and organisational objectives.
John Bertot, a Professor in the School of Information Studies at Florida State University, has been associated for some years with the development and use of more qualitative and user-based evaluation criteria for assessing digital libraries. The PM6 paper from John and his colleagues describes research which relies on a combination of functionality, usability, and accessibility evaluation strategies applied iteratively to assess libraries from the perspective of users’ needs. The context for the paper is the authors’ work on a multi-year study to determine appropriate evaluation techniques, tools, and methodologies for the Florida Electronic Library.
Sandra Parker has been associated with the Northumbria PM conference series from its start in 1995. Following seven months studying in Japan, her PM6 paper offers a fascinating comparison of library performance measurement systems between Japan and the UK and other G8 countries. She describes the differing cultural contexts in which differing systems have developed, and suggests that we all have much to learn from each other.
Angela Conyers’ paper focuses on the importance of usage statistics as the foundation of any study of the impact of electronic services: the why, what and how of collecting and analysing them, and how libraries can be supported to do so. The context is two nationally-funded projects in the UK higher education sector.
The final paper of the issue uses data collected in the context of Swedish higher education. Martha Kyrillidou and colleagues examine how the library user emerges in the context of the LibQUAL+™ application in Sweden in 2004. The importance of the information control dimension and linguistic aspects of the survey are highlighted.
I hope you will find this issue as stimulating to read as I have to put it together for you, and that you will look forward to subsequent issues which will continue to draw on this rich vein of papers from PM6.