Felicity McGregor is University Librarian at the University of Wollongong.
Abstract: With a mechanism for quality auditing of universities firmly on the Government's agenda, it is timely for libraries to demonstrate, more assertively than in the past, the value and relevance of the services they provide. Sustainability in future may depend, not solely on the capacity to deliver relevant services, but on the capacity to demonstrate that libraries are of strategic importance in achieving the educational goals of universities.
Development of performance indicators, within a quality assurance framework, and the application of benchmarking methodologies are the most commonly used tools for measuring performance against internal organisational goals or against other organisations with similar goals and processes.
Identifying indicators and accompanying measures, which are valid, reliable and efficient to administer, can be a challenging process. If the focus is on the quality and relevance of library services within an organisational and client environment, then indicators may be derived from stakeholder expectations. Additional measures of costs and benefits may be necessary in assessing comparisons with competitors.
Although it is vital for the library profession to develop agreed national standards or benchmarks, the purpose of measurement should not be to engender competition, which may be detrimental to the long-standing co-operation and collaboration amongst libraries.
Instead, the focus should be on demonstrating library value and relevance, within an organisational context and, potentially, to enable comparison with competitors in other industries.