Special Libraries and Evidence Based Decision Making

Ron Aspe

Ron Aspe

April 10, 2018

Pilots can’t fly unless they have instruments that tell them what the plane is doing at all times, and where it’s heading. Library professionals need instruments too, in order to assess whether the products and services they are providing are valued, and to understand what additional products and services might be needed. Read about 4 tools that will help you maintain your situational awareness.

Here are four tools that can get your head out of the clouds. Some are free, and none are cost prohibitive relative to the benefits gained.

1) Google Analytics

Most information centers have websites. Take a close look at yours. Does it showcase all the resources available to people in your organization? Can they easily access them through your site? If not, you need to redesign your site. Furthermore, you need to set up Google Analytics so you can tell what they’re finding, and what they’re not. That information may spotlight the need to curate special collections, offer more resources to users outside your home country or optimize your website for smartphones and mobile devices.

2) Electronic Resource Management

Do you know which electronic subscriptions are being used, and by whom? More interestingly, which subscriptions are not being used at all—and when the contracts on those subscriptions will automatically renew? Electronic Resource Management tools let you make evidence based decisions that align with organizational strategy, because you can evaluate usage patterns, confirm the value of online subscription investments, leverage detailed user/session level knowledge during contract renewals, spot content gaps and identify training or internal marketing opportunities at a group or user level.

3) Request Tracking

Software companies have been using applications that manage technical support questions for decades. We do it because it helps us to identify how we can improve our products and services, and to be more efficient. With Request Tracking software, IR team members can achieve the same objective. For example, it’s possible to track which departments, practice areas or individuals are submitting requests, to analyze materials used as well as what might be missing in the collection, and to quantify digital versus print usage and costs.

4) Knowledge Resource Dashboard (KRD)

You can’t manage what you don’t measure. Key metrics your information resource center could be tracking include:

  • Content cost per employee, for benchmarking purposes
  • Progress against budget, for ongoing expense management and reallocation
  • Time spent supporting specific practice areas, departments, groups or seniority levels, allowing you to identify your most enthusiastic users as well as spot any underserved functions or individuals
  • Departmental and staff member productivity, for workload balancing and specialist designation
  • Repeat questions, so you can create FAQs, roadmaps or primers

Of course, you might not be interested in all of these, and you may well have a few other metrics you want to track. A good KRD can be easily configured meet those requirements and display accordingly.

Effortlessly maintain your situational awareness

Studies on decision-making have resulted in the following observations:

  • The greatest obstacle to efficient decision making is a lack of information
  • Decision-making stress increases dramatically as a result of missing information
  • When provided with good data, most managers enjoy making decisions

None of the above observations come as a surprise, so what explanation can there be for not having good decision support tools? You guessed it, a lack of information. Need some? Lucidea is here to help.

Ron Aspe

Ron Aspe

Ron Aspe is the founder and CEO of Lucidea, and along with a dedicated and innovative team has built a company that actualizes his vision of offering the best and most comprehensive information and knowledge management solutions to clients worldwide. Ron is passionate about creating ground breaking solutions for knowledge, content and information professionals, as well as archivists, librarians, and curators.

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