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Article citation: Steve Thornton, (2011) "Editorial", Performance Measurement and Metrics, Vol. 12 Iss: 1, pp. -
Once again, an eclectic mix of papers from around the world: Hungary, Canada, Mexico, England, Romania, Japan, USA and Italy, and on a diverse range of topics.
Maria Borbely gives us her experience in using EFQM, looking at organisational change in the Meliusz County Library of Debrecen in Hungary. She admits that she expected the move from a scattered collection of outdated accommodation to a purpose built, IT enabled modern library to have a positive impact on staff morale and efficiency. However, cutbacks and a new management regime countered every positive enhancement and created an immediate negative effect. Although this effect may wear off in time the “Changes to the management of the library have radically undermined the moral of employees and their self-assessment of the organisation.”
For her, the EFQM methodology enabled her to gather the most sophisticated and smallest facts that influence the life of the organization. Even though the results didn’t match up with expectations, EFQM itself performed as well as she could have hoped.
From Canada and Mexico, Miquel Morales, Riadh Ladhari, Javier Reynoso, Rosario Toro and Cesar Sepulveda describe their effort to create a Spanish language version of LibQual+. Examining the psychometric properties and the stability of the factor structure of the new version they identified four dimensions of service quality rather than the three in the English version, the dimension of “information control” devolving into two separate dimensions: “personal control” and “information access”.
I must admit I had never considered that merely translating a survey into another language actually altered it, not just in a simple way, but in one so subtle that it can only be expressed properly by carrying out a major restructuring. LibQual+ has undergone several transformations since its inception, and it has been translated into several other languages. Do those translations fully represent the original? This team’s approach demonstrates an interesting and apparently effective methodology to find out.
Andrew K. Shenton from England addresses two pupil-centred techniques for the assessment of school libraries, the returnees approach, and modelling-through-reaction. While user-centred surveys and appraisals are a matter of course for adults, there have been far fewer proportionately for children. He describes and discusses the two techniques in detail as two major tools in the assessment armoury.
He points out that it has been “argued that young people, with their limited experience of life and consequently restricted perspectives, lack the maturity to understand the true effectiveness of the school library, especially if they are unfamiliar with any others.” Well, you can argue that about a large section of the adult population as well. As a child I loved my school library, but was terrified and driven away by the harridan in my local public library. Ten years later I replaced her as she lost her cushy post. Revenge is sweet.
Marcel Chiranov describes the use of pop-up surveys in Romania. As part of a Bill and Melinda Gates funded project (I’ve almost forgiven him for Vista) he demonstrates how they are gathering feedback on value and impact of the Biblionet library services. Personally, pop-ups drive me mad, and these days I always refuse to take part in them. There is one site (Northamptonshire County Council), which asks me to take part in a survey almost every time I access their services. Since they never appear to take any notice of the citizens of Northamptonshire, I’ve never seen the point.
Lisa Klopfer and Haruki Nagata present us with a paper addressing what socio-cultural functions public libraries actually have? What values do they reinforce? What needs are met? How do public libraries fit into the larger social fabric of public and private institutions? And how might these functions vary from one society to another? Haruki is well known for his socio-cultural studies in Japan, and here he and Lisa attempt to draw out not just the satisfaction levels of patrons, but to delineate something of the patrons’ own conception of their public library. This study is of a rather unusual library by Japanese standards, and they found that some patrons have responded to the particularly strong community focus of the library director. Just the sort of project I would like to see carried out in the UK.
And finally, Luciana Sacchetti, Paola Ianucci and Simona Tosi describe a personal battle to protect the department library Sacchetti led through ISO 9001 certification. In gaining the quality mark she thought she had also justified a certain and secure future for her team, only to find that as far as the University Library system was concerned she was overstaffed. They were working from a simplistic and naïve set of metrics; as far as they were concerned, Luciana’s library was a poor performer. She went on to show them that this was not the case, and that they were performing well against other comparable libraries and national averages.
It just goes to show that no one is secure these days.
I hope you enjoy these articles as much as I have.