Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2006, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
This issue again presents a mix of keynote speech 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.
The main conference themes were:
methodologies and their application;
the electronic environment;
international contexts and practice; and
“other” contexts, e.g. museums, health service, national and special libraries.
And again this issue presents a mix of these themes, from a range of national and international contexts and authors. There are five papers and one keynote speech, with the main theme in the issue being methodology: its development and application being at the heart of four of the contributions, the academic library being the context also in four of them, the public library in one, and authors representing work in their area from the UK, the USA, New Zealand and Australia.
Andrew Booth, reader in Evidence Based Information Practice from the University of Sheffield, UK, gave an innovative keynote speech, which explored conceptual and practical links between performance measurement and evidence based library and information practice, using his knowledge and experience from the particular context of evidence-based healthcare. The research question at the heart of this work is to investigate whether performance measurement should be viewed as one stage of evidence-based library and information practice, or as an overarching approach to utilisation of data of which research-derived evidence is a single source. Andrew is largely responsible for initiating this debate, which will doubtless be taken up by other authors and at other conferences.
The second paper is by Frankie Wilson and J. Stephen Town from Cranfield University, UK, and it again focuses on methodological development, here set in the context of the academic library. The authors discuss the development and use of a quality reference model to assess the level of impact of benchmarking on library services. The model allows the quality maturity of the library service to be measured on a five-point scale, and is again an innovative approach to and use of modelling. Both this paper, and the following one from Rowena Cullen, take a theory into practice approach. Rowena, from the Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, here develops her Focus/Values/Purpose Matrix, which she first presented at the second PM conference in 1997, and which set out to define a “culture of assessment”. In this paper she describes the development and testing of a new survey instrument, which seeks to translate the theoretical model of the matrix into a workable instrument for wider use.
In the fourth paper, Steve Hiller, Martha Kyrillidou and Jim Self, from the USA, report on the first phase of a project sponsored by the Association of Research Libraries entitled “Making Library Assessment Work: Practical Approaches for Developing and Sustaining Effective Assessment”. The project is intended to “provide libraries with the knowledge and understanding necessary to select and apply appropriate measurement techniques, and to use assessment data in decision making”. The work described in this paper is based in the academic library sector
And the final paper of the issue presents an up close, from the coalface, look at the richness and depth of a set of data collected by Joan Stein and colleagues from the Carnegie Mellon University in the USA. It offers an unusually detailed description of work in progress, providing the reader with a frank, reflective and very informative account which will echo with many who undertake in depth qualitative fieldwork themselves, both in terms of the process described and the emerging findings.
This is again an issue offering to readers papers from a variety of contexts and standpoints. All are of high quality, and I have pleasure in presenting them to you.