Passing on the benchmarking baton — welcome to our workshop in Cardiff

We are delighted and honoured to see that the interactive workshop we will facilitate on Wednesday 11th July from 14:00 to 15:30 in Studio 2  in Cardiff is already fully booked. Maybe it is not so surprising when we only accept 20 workshop attendees because the required level of participant activity is very high.

The title — and topic of the workshop — is Passing on the benchmarking baton: workshop on cooperation methods, using new indicators, finding partners, and reporting results. The methods will include speed-dating, brain-storming and brain-writing.

Our workshop aims to

  1. Share methods and tools;
  2. Encourage cooperation and new partnerships between libraries and librarians;
  3. Build on new indicators that were identified during the Dublin workshop;
  4. Identify themes and methods for new benchmarking projects;
  5. Find methods and channels to report to colleagues.

As a participant, you will have the opportunity to meet new partners for future benchmarking projects and to learn and practise tools to use in your workshops.

Why do we want to pass on the benchmarking baton?

For about five years, we have collected and tried to compare plenty of data and statistics, had dozens of online meetings and a few live meetings, made site visits to each of the participating libraries, interviewed library users, interviewed library staff, discussed  library as a place, marketing, information skills training, and many other aspects of our work. We have also maintained this blog where we have shared experiences and thoughts on benchmarking issues.

We have also had a focus group session in EAHIL+ICAHIS+ICML 2015 workshop in Edinburgh, prepared and presented a paper at EAHIL 2016 conference in Seville, moreover, facilitated an interactive workshop session in ICML+EAHIL 2017 in Dublin. Most importantly, we have learned a lot.

Now it is not only finally the time to pass on the benchmarking baton to you, but we also need to move on — to new projects and roles, to different challenges and experiences.

Part of a workshop planning document

Part of a workshop planning document

So, what we are proposing, is that you start benchmarking! Our benchmarking project brought us to compare different ways of organising library area and services, of managing staff and coordinate relationships within the institution and outside, and how to train users to information literacy and establish and maintain connections with faculty and hospital. Current and traditional statistics did not help us. They could be compared but did not provide us with handy information, partly because they do not cover the same reality (e.g. economics, mostly). ISO indicators were difficult to use because our countries, working cultures and usages are different.

We came to the point where we wanted to investigate the value of the library, and what we needed was new indicators to compare this value. Impact of our project was that EAHIL members took part in our benchmarking and collaborated in our workshops to propose these new indicators, which could better address our goals. We hope this last workshop will help you to set your goals and encourage you to start something as rewarding as our project.

If you have not attended our previous workshop (or participated in the focus group or heard the presentation) or read this blog before, please, take a look at the background, the participating libraries, and the About page, in addition to reading at least some of the linked posts — most of them are shorter than this one.

We would also really appreciate it, if you could shortly comment who you are, where you work and/or study, and why you have chosen our workshop.

See you in Cardiff!

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Outcomes from ICML+EAHIL2017 workshop

At ICML+EAHIL2017 we facilitated a workshop called Cooperation and benchmarking – finding the value and impact together.

We invited the participants to take part in our benchmarking project. We wanted them to help us to identify more future oriented indicators* and also to discuss how — or if — benchmarking can provide tools for creating an evidence base for health librarianship. The goal of the workshop was to find some new and exciting ideas to take further. We used brainwriting as a tool to find and refine the ideas.

working

Preparations the day before.

The first part of the session was spent on identifying new ideas for indicators to help measuring impact and value for international (health) library benchmarking.

The best ideas for indicators — quotations from post-it notes — from this brainwriting sessions were:

  • Number of high “grade” student essays/exam papers in relation to librarian time spent teaching/tutoring
  • How has the literature search been used to change practice?
  • Impact on national health policies index/indicator
  • When host organisation cites the library’s contribution in press releases or publicity
  • What is the new role of a librarian? Non-traditional work
  • Publications from the faculty; visibility in altmetrics
  • Can the customer get the grant he/she applies
  • Time saved by faculty e.g. lecture writing, student remediation
  • Proportion of knowledge syntheses that reach publication
  • Increase in application usage after a conference
  • Chocolate/biscuits/cards — how many gifts (you get from customers)
interactive workshop

Identifying new indicators

During the second part of the session the participants discussed how (or if) benchmarking can provide tools for creating an evidence base for health librarianship. There were five questions and the participants came up with lots of ideas and then voted for the ones that they liked best. Here are the ideas and proposals that were most popular — again quotations from post-it notes:

1. How can benchmarking provide tools for creating an evidence base for health librarianship?

  • Develop indicators which are clearly articulated and detailed to enable consistent application across different services.

2. How can cooperation and benchmarking be seen as research activities?

  • Will help develop “industry standards” to be adopted by the profession.

3. How can cooperation and benchmarking be used for measuring the impact of libraries and librarians?

  • It will give you “evidence” by comparing both qualitative and quantitative measures.

4. How to inspire staff for change?

  • By empowering them, trusting them, and giving them freeway to make decisions.

5. Something else?

  • More national and international collaboration.
WOWs

The best ideas

We are very grateful for all the participants for working hard and being so active. We hope everyone got something to bring back, some food for thought, found new connections and were able to extend their professional network.

* ISO 11620 (2014) definition of indicator: Expression used to characterize activities both in quantitative and qualitative terms in order to assess the value of the activities characterized, and the associated method.

Focus! — said the focus group

Ten delegates of EAHIL+ICAHIS+ICLC 2015 workshop participated in our focus group interview session in Edinburgh. Focus group is a qualitative method, the results cannot be generalized to a population (e.g. all participants at the EAHIL workshop), but can say something about trends and point out features and patterns that recur. In our session, we looked for perceptions, opinions, beliefs, and attitudes about some themes we have covered in our benchmarking project.

The focus group participants were Bente Aastad (Telemark University College, Porsgrunn), Elaine Garrett (Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists London), Imrana Ghumra (Cilip Health Libraries Group London), Hans Ket (University Medical Center Amsterdam),Marie Källberg (Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm), Joëlle Longchamp Reuge (Haute école de travail social et de la santé in Lausanne), Emma-Lotta Säätelä (Biomedical- and Medical libraries at Uppsala University), and Guus van den Brekel (University Medical Center Groningen), and, as moderators, Karen J. Buset & Tuulevi Ovaska.

We talked about the challenges of data comparison, our site visits, marketing, library as a place, and — most importantly — how the project should proceed. We took notes but also asked the participants to put a word or two on post-it notes.

Post-it notes

Post-it notes


Preparation for the session 

We used a semi-structured interview guide to structures the discussion and secure that all topics were covered and that all of the participants had the opportunity to express their opinion. We made notes but also asked to the participants put a word or two on post-it notes. In the blog we asked the people attending our workshop session, to themselves very shortly (name, organization, main tasks) by commenting the blog post. Some of them also explain why they chose to attend this session:

  • … interested in focus groups as a way of identifying our user needs, and the benchmarking process because I have seen on recent visits to other libraries how much we can learn from each other
  • … it is important to do the right thing at the hospital, using benchmarking and focus groups are two different methods to learn what the library can do to keep updated and preparing for the future
  • … interested in hearing what you have learnt in your benchmarking … it will help our planning to learn what you found important during your project.
  • … hope to hear more about benchmarking in general …
  • … benchmarking to find out how to improve some of our services, for example : the marketing …
  • … interested in the question about site visits and the library as a physical space

The workshop started with a brief summary on benchmarking and focus group as methods, and we also explained to the group the intention of the workshop was not to teach them something about benchmarking, but to get input and ideas for our future work.

Topic 1: Data comparison

The discussion was mostly on library quality assurance in different countries, for example the Quality assurance framework in England, that provides tools for best practices, that we think we should check out. The focus group agreed that using indicators probably is the best way forward, but the big question is, which data to compare: number of books and e-books, number of loans…? They advised us to to go back to our data and start figuring out what we want to measure. They asked, if we should also compare our library staff numbers and competencies, and would it be possible to measure progress of services.

Post-It notes from the participants

Focus group tools

Focus group tools

Topic 2: Site visits

The group agreed that site visits are useful but take time from other activities, as well as money for traveling. They agreed that interviewing the students in all the three libraries has given us useful information but that we should also think how to get in touch with those who are not visiting the library. It was agreed that there are challenges in making visits and comparisons among libraries and their users in several countries, for example in our case three different languages (in addition to English as the common language) and the different (working) cultures of our countries. We think there is more information and value — and more to learn — in comparing with someone different from your own country.

Sidetracks from the discussion

  • EAHIL should engage in such projects
  • Libraries are not good at publishing and sharing results.
    • Could there be a performance parameter on “How good are the libraries in sharing information about their projects”?

Post-It notes from the participants

  • What about non-users?
  • Staff not always open to be interviewed
  • Language and cultural barriers
  • How do we share information?
  • Books and shelves
  • Furnishing
  • Number of study desks and PCs

Focus group

Focus group

Topic 3: Marketing

We talked about good examples like the Biblio-Jack project in Brussels. Libraries and librarians need skills and more knowledge on marketing; how to do it, what works out…. IT could be useful to collaborate and share marketing material, as an example we learned about the common hospital library week in Sweden. It was suggested that EAHIL should have a new special interest group for people interested in marketing so there could be more cooperation in this field. It was also asked if it is possible to measure or have indicators of the impact of marketing. The group thought marketing could be one of the main focuses of our benchmarking project.

Post-It notes from the participants

  • Targeting different user groups
  • Video Biblio-Jack
  • Core skills for librarians?
  • Share stories, examples, material, experiences e.g. promoting libraries in education
  • Small level marketing projects

Focus group

Focus group

Topic 4: Library as a place

Library as a place was discussed earlier in connection with the site visits and student/customer interviews.

Post-It notes from the participants

  • Find the people that do not use the library anymore, maybe clinicians and researchers or nurses
  • Re-zoning university libraries in UK — also health libraries

How should we proceed?

The group suggested that we figure out what we want to measure at this point, that we use indicators, that we should compare staff and — most importantly — that we must focus on fewer topics. We are grateful to the group for the discussion, the tips and the encouragement.