Best Value and Better Performance in Libraries

C: ‘Getting out of the box’, choosing indicators and other issues

C2: Meeting the challenge to existing aims/objectives

The following issues were identifed by a service manager:

Challenging public library services on their aims is important. Existing models of libraries may not work for much longer because the traditional users may be dying off and younger groups, especially 16-30 year old boys and men, do not use libraries to any great extent. Can leisure reading for the traditional readership remain a priority? Or must librarians embrace the social inclusion agenda, with more time and resources targeted there and with a complete rethink of services?

If social inclusion is a priority aim and you then develop real impact indicators to measure it, you may need to abandon tradition activities and do things differently:

  • empower communities to manage their own libraries
  • provide space and resources (but not people) where communities have expertise, such as middle class reading groups
  • “get in lads who were not there before – demystify the library for wary parents”.

If we are only evaluating services by counting heads, these decisions are impossible.

We need a vision:

  • a socially inclusive service
  • active support for learning and development
  • modernise delivery

and much better monitoring, evaluation and performance development.