The initiative for this document was taken by then President Claudia Lux at the Section’s conference in Montréal (august 2008). The idea is to have a certified document about the importance of library statistics, as they demonstrate the value that libraries provide to their users and to society. Statistical data are indispensable for the internal management of libraries, but they can do more. When presented to policy makers, funding institutions or the general public, they will influence the strategic planning, and they can create and maintain confidence in libraries.
Library Statistics Manifesto
Libraries and information services serve society by preserving memory, feeding development, enabling education & research, and supporting international understanding & community well-being.
Library statistics: data can make a difference
Quantitative and qualitative data about library services, library use and library users are essential for revealing and confirming the outstanding value that libraries provide.
What library statistics show
By measuring the input into libraries (resources including buildings and equipment, staff and collections), library statistics show the engagement of politics and authorities for library services. By counting the output, the usage of traditional and new electronic library collections and services, libraries show that their services are adequate to the respective population. Comparing input and output data demonstrates whether libraries are organising their services in a cost-effective way.
Data about the use and acceptance of library services can also indicate the outcome of libraries on the population. Such outcome (on literacy, information seeking skills, educational success or social inclusion) will be more visible where qualitative data from user surveys are added to statistical results.
Quality of library statistics
Correct, reliable and comparable data are crucial for the value and usefulness of library statistics. The quality of national – and finally from them international - library statistics depends on accurate and timely delivery by each library and on careful editing to detect errors and misunderstandings. To make results comparable between regions or countries, the same definitions and methods must be used.
The model questionnaire
Given this variety in responsibilities for library statistics, it is all the more crucial that a uniform questionnaire with standardised data and methods be used.
Therefore, a model questionnaire for public and academic libraries has been developed in a joint project of IFLA and UNESCO and ISO, the International Organization for Standardization. Based on the ISO standard for library statistics, a questionnaire with 23 questions has been developed that considers both traditional and electronic library services. Trials in Latin America and the Caribbean have proved the feasibility of utilising the model questionnaire for collecting library statistics on a comparable basis.
Funding, legislation and networks
Governments and other relevant decision-making bodies are encouraged to establish and adequately fund central units for the compilation of national library statistics on the basis of the model questionnaire and to support local and regional bodies in collecting them.
In order to achieve reliable data, teaching modules for library statistics should be developed in international cooperation. The ultimate aim must be on the one side to have individual libraries using statistics for effective management, on the other side to compile and coordinate library data on a national and finally international scale in order to visualise libraries’ contribution to learning and literacy and to social, cultural and economic development.
Implementing the Manifesto
Decision makers at all levels and the library community around the world are hereby requested to disseminate this Manifesto and to carry out the principles and actions expressed