This Information Week article by Mary Hayes Weier gets to the heart of library business.
Budget cuts and increased usage at the NYPL make the newly implemented BI (Business Intelligence) system a timely innovation. Applying the principles of business with accurate metrics will assist in having the ultimate cuts be well-informed business decisions rather than relying on gut instincts.
Ms. Weier does a great job of discussing how the system tracks time of visits and circulations numbers. Go to her article for the details. It may help you think about your own tough decisions in a new light.
Considering that budgets everywhere are being cut, I find it inspiring that NYPL is employing solid BI principles to run the library. This is truly, a business model.
I am a huge proponent in applying business practices to libraries. (I’m even presenting a workshop on Business Plans for Libraries next week.) Seeing business methods applied at one of the largest public libraries in the U.S. is incredibly encouraging.
If you are facing budget cuts and the ultimate necessity of staff and/or service cuts, employing careful metrics is a great starting point. My own local public library began the new calendar year with no Sunday hours. It’s inconvenient for me but better than cutting the evening hours that I use more often.
I appreciate the confidence that business analytics can bring to tough service decisions in today’s library. Probably not every library can or needs to deploy a BI system such as that used by NYPL. However, if you are a library, you are collecting statistics. Are you collecting the right ones? Now might be a good time to reexamine which metrics you are and should collect. And the best tip of all: measure services to justify and quantify based upon your supporting organization’s mission.
Using those metrics will allow you to run with the big dogs, aka the CFO, CEO and CIO