Benchmarking workshop in Dublin

ICML+EAHIL2017 Wednesday 14th June, 2017 15:00-16:30 Workshop 5  — Cooperation and benchmarking – finding the value and impact together.

In this workshop we invite the participants to take part in a benchmarking project of three health libraries. We want you to help us to identify more future oriented indicators* and also to discuss how — or if — benchmarking can provide tools for creating evidence base for health librarianship. The goal of the workshop is to find some new and exciting ideas to take further. We will use different brainwriting tools to find and refine the ideas.


What is brainwriting

Brainwriting is an idea-generating method that involves the participants in a group activity. In the more familiar brainstorming a group generates creative ideas verbally, on the other hand brainwriting enables the group to generate ideas and solutions on paper. It is easier for the less vocal people to participate in brainwriting. In the process, the  participants build on each other’s ideas, and that gives an extra dimension to the discussions.

The basics are a group of people sitting together to write down ideas on index cards or Post-It notes. Participants are invited to consider out-of-the-box ideas. At the end of a set period of time (e.g., 5-10 minutes) the ideas are collected, organized into groups, and presented to the rest of the group.  Then there can be a second (or even more) round to generate and present more ideas.

There are different variations of brainwriting – we plan to use two methods:

  • BrainWriting 6-3-5: The name comes from the process of having 6 people write 3 ideas on Post-It notes in 5 minutes.
  • BrainWriting Pool: Each person, using Post-It notes or small cards, writes down ideas, and places them in the center of the table. Everyone is free to pull out one or more of these ideas for inspiration. Group members can create new ideas, variations or piggyback on existing ideas.

Workshop on benchmarking

 In our session you will discuss and develop two themes:

  1. Identify new kinds/types of indicators – future oriented instead of based on what has been done – in order to measure impact and value for international (health) library benchmarking.
  2. Our profession benefits from an evidence-based, research-focused foundation. We want you to discuss how (or if) benchmarking can provide tools for creating an evidence base for health librarianship.

If you will be attending our workshop session in Dublin, please, before Tuesday 13th June, 2017, introduce yourself very shortly (name, organization, main tasks) by commenting this post. If you want, you can also very shortly explain why you chose this session.

And remember to bring your brain!

*According to ISO 11620:2014, an indicator is an expression (which can be numeric, symbolic, or verbal) used to characterize activities (events, objects, persons) both in quantitative and qualitative terms in order to assess the value of the activities characterized, and the associated method.

Choosing ISO indicators

As consideration of ISO (International Organization for Standardization) performance indicators seemed to make sense in a library benchmarking project, we decided to pick up a couple of them out of ISO 11620 (2014).

  1. The first step was to read it completely and theoretically decide which could bring useful information.
  2. The second step consisted using actual data from our libraries.
  3. The third one is to use them to produce information.

ISO Indicators chosen and discussed

User per capita indicator stresses the importance of the library as a place for study, meeting, and as a learning centre, and indicates the institution’s support for these tasks. We decided to consider students only, including PhD, for this indicator as they are the most actual users of the physical library.

Staff per capita is supposed assessing the number of library employees per 1 000 members of the population to be served. The amount of work to be done can be considered proportional to the number of persons in the population to be served. We decided to consider students, including PhD, for this indicator as they are the most actual users of the physical library + academic staff from faculties and hospitals. Hospital nursing staff actually uses (physically or not) the library, yet less than academics in our opinion. We hence agreed on adding here 10 percent of this personnel.

The Number of User Attendances at Training Lessons per Capita can be used to assess the success of the library in reaching its users through the provision of training lessons. As this performance indicator is applicable to all libraries with a defined population to be served, and this number is impossible to define, we decided not to consider it.

User Services Staff as a Percentage of Total Staff indicator can be used to determine the library’s effort devoted to public services in relation to the background services. User services include the following functions: lending, reference interlibrary lending, user education, photocopying, shelving, and retrieving items. We decided to use it.

We now have to use our results, interpret them and find recommendations. This will probably be communicated in a paper or a conference presentation in the next months.

Working on performance indicators and our paper for EAHIL 2016

Last week we had a chance to meet face-to-face in Brussels and to work on two things:

  1. On choosing the indicators to be able to compare our services and their impact. Choosing indicators is not easy but we managed to agree on three ISO indicators. We will write more about them later.
  2. On our paper, titled How to work together on an international project? Experiences from a benchmarking project of three European health libraries, that has been accepted to the scientific programme of the EAHIL 2016 in Seville, Spain, in June. We will present it in Parallel Session I Cooperation on Friday 10th June.

In addition to online meetings, that we have regularly, and sharing and writing documents in Dropbox, as well as collaborative blog posting from three different locations, we consider the possibility to meet in person every now and then necessary for effective and productive project work. This time we had a full day after another meeting we all attended.

International cooperation

A Finn needing local support in using a Belgian keyboard.