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Accounting for differences in library performance

Accounting for differences in library performance

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Accounting for differences in library performance

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  1. Accounting for differences in library performance Helen Greenwood LISU, Loughborough University

  2. Introduction • Background • Approach • Key findings • Ongoing work Accounting for differences in library performance

  3. Background to the study • Library performance evaluation based on data reported to CIPFA • Suspected inconsistency in the compilation of data • Need to draw valid comparisons between similar library services • Some authorities appear to be high spending but low performing Accounting for differences in library performance

  4. Comparing apples to oranges? ‘idiom … used to indicate that two items or groups of items have not been validly compared’ (Wikipedia, 2007) Accounting for differences in library performance

  5. ‘I am … aware of the criticisms from colleagues within the profession that some of the data we collect are no longer relevant and that some collection methodologies leave much to be desired’ (Lightfoot, 2003) Accounting for differences in library performance

  6. Numbers should be interpreted with care! Rseearch at Cmabrigde University shwos it deson’t mttaer in what order the ltteers in a word are, as long as the frist and lsat letters are in the rghit palce … If only the same were true of numbers! Accounting for differences in library performance

  7. Approach • For the study to be relevant and valuable in practical terms it was necessary to identify similar authorities • Based on: - geographical factors - statistical benchmarking based on CIPFA data Accounting for differences in library performance

  8. Geographical factors • Counties only • Population distribution information was not readily available so approach taken used the ratio between population density of the two most densely populated districts of each county • Where the most densely populated district was more than nine times more densely populated than the first, these counties were excluded Accounting for differences in library performance

  9. Statistical benchmarking • Proportion of population aged under 15 and over 60 • Average population per service point • Expenditure per capita • Book stock per capita • Total population, county area & pop density Accounting for differences in library performance

  10. ‘Nearest neighbour’ analysis Each measure was standardised across the counties ↓ Average ‘distance’ from Leicestershire calculated ↓ Distances ranked and plotted ↓ Possible authorities identified ↓ Key output measures consulted Accounting for differences in library performance

  11. ‘Distance’ from Leicestershire Accounting for differences in library performance

  12. issues (book & AV) requests enquiries visits cost per visit population per professional staff staff expenditure materials expenditure Selecting the benchmarking group Output measures considered to assist decision-making Accounting for differences in library performance

  13. visitors premises stock transport staff services ICT income expenditure Accounting for differences in the data • A working group of seven local authorities was formed • Key areas were examined: Accounting for differences in library performance

  14. Accounting for differences in the data • How these data were compiled was discussed during in-depth interviews >In groups & individually > Opportunity to talk openly about concerns with the data & seek important contextual info • Seminar focusing on visits, staff and ICT expenditure data >Forum for the exchange of questions, concerns approaches and ideas Accounting for differences in library performance

  15. Key findings • Considerable variation in data collection, compilation and reporting to CIPFA • Particular issue with catch-all categories e.g. miscellaneous & support services expenditure • Reasons for inconsistencies include: > Organisational differences > Difficulties apportioning central costs > Different accounting protocol > Insufficient guidance from CIPFA > Lack of respondents’ notes > A desire to present favourable data! Accounting for differences in library performance

  16. Visits • Definition of a visit • Counting at events & shared-use buildings • Methods of counting e.g. Manual count: 3.26M visits Automatic count: 3.10M visits A difference of >150,000, yet both methods are acceptable • Calibration of people counters • Views on reliability of figures • Which figures reported to CIPFA Accounting for differences in library performance

  17. Staff costs • Cost of central support • Salary scales/grades/rates • Overheads - % part-time staff • Training costs • Contribution to wider objectives of the authority Accounting for differences in library performance

  18. ICT • How ICT infrastructure is managed & funded >same type of expenditure found in three different categories within the group! • Non-financial computing costs • What provision includes • Equipment replacement policy & sustainability • Measuring use of electronic services Accounting for differences in library performance

  19. Ongoing work Leicestershire and Warwickshire continuing to work together • Staffing structures & formulas • Further examination of accounting procedures • Adopted same approach to submitting data to CIPFA • Reporting to Midlands Performance Group Accounting for differences in library performance

  20. Further information • Anonymised report available to download: www.lboro.ac.uk/depts/dis/lisu/pages/publications • Nigel Thomas NThomas@leics.gov.uk • Ayub Khan ayubkhan@warwickshire.gov.uk Accounting for differences in library performance