As Technical Services Team Leader, one of my jobs is to gather the statistics we collect to prove that we are doing our job well (or not so well). When I started at my last job, statistics was one of the very first projects I was given. Basically I was told ‘We don’t trust these numbers, make some better ones’. After talking to everyone in management about what they wanted to collect, I designed a series of linked spreadsheets which all fed in to each other. It was quite complex and one little nudge would break them all. Also, if someone went in and fiddled, it would upset the numbers on other sheets. As a way around this, I ensured that the linked sheets and the LMS all fed in to one ‘collection’ sheet. This collection sheet was used once per month to copy the gathered statistics together. These would then be manually copied to a separate data spreadsheet using the ‘Paste Special’. These figures were then ‘prettied up’ with charts and whatnot in a linked summary spreadsheet which divided up between the 5 physical branches, the virtual branch and CALD data. It also meant that management would only ever access one spreadsheet, the one that was pretty and had all the correct figures on it.

Moving to my new job, I have realised that, although the library branches are very separate from each other, there are library ‘teams’ that mean that the above approach will not work as well. Previously, if someone was at a branch and hosted an activity or program, they would then go straight to the branch report spreadsheet and enter the details and figures. Here, they don’t do that. Everyone keeps an individual report of what he or she does and, every quarter, they are all collated together. This may be collated through the team leader in charge of the team (ie Reference or CALD) or through the manager in charge of collections. Having separate teams can cause some duplication. To me, a bilingual children’s storytime should be counted in both CALD and children’s areas. It should be marked so that we don’t count the figures twice when totalling, but it should still go towards both areas. Here, because of the different teams, it depends on who initiated the event.

That being said, it seems that very little in the way of stable statistics has ever been kept here. I have historical figures for the KPIs here, but nothing else to support these. The only collection figures are high level loans and reservation numbers (I know that xxx CALD items were loaned this year, but I cannot tell in which language sets). This is all changing.

When I am back from Europe in September, I will be re-working nearly all of the statistics. I have already started by creating the data and summary sheets for people to view. Management seem to be interested in having a single point of reference for all statistics and everyone has given me ideas. The information that is needed here is somewhat different to what I would have thought, but I can see how it is needed. I will also be working on a list of sheets which measure the ‘flow’ of each of our collections (do our Junior Chinese DVDs move at all or are we wasting money? are they being used more at one branch than another? do we even have Junior Chinese DVDs?)

I would absolutely love to know how everyone else organises their statistics. Actual examples of the sheets would be even better. If people are interested, I can post our data/summary sheets so you can see how things are organised.

Statistics: What to collect?

One thought on “Statistics: What to collect?

  • November 24, 2009 at 12:09 am

    Hi Christian,
    Statistically, it’s time you put up a new blog post. Stats not good enough to have such a long blog holiday. In stat, you are being very slack. Surely something is happening in Carp Diem land that you can tell us about??


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