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Demonstrating value in research libraries: the shared service standards initiative

Stanley, Tracey, Town, Stephen and Knowles, Jackie 2016. Demonstrating value in research libraries: the shared service standards initiative. Performance Measurement and Metrics 17 (2) , pp. 188-193. 10.1108/PMM-04-2016-0015

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Purpose – In 2014, the Research Libraries UK (RLUK) consortium developed a shared set of customer-focused service standards to be adopted and used by all University Library members. This was the first time that such an approach had been taken across research libraries in the UK. The driver for this initiative was to enable the libraries to develop more comprehensive, shared quality indicators which would enable them to demonstrate their value, especially in times of austerity when budgets might be under threat. The purpose of this paper is to set out the approach taken to the development of shared service standards and ensuring the engagement and buy-in of the RLUK membership. Design/methodology/approach – The service standards initiative was conceived and developed as a strategic RLUK project, as part of the strategy on “collaboration to reduce costs and improve quality”. Initially it was considered that a collaborative approach to developing quality and performance indicators and service standards would reduce duplication of effort across members and save staff time in establishing mechanisms for collection of performance data. In addition it was agreed that there would be potential for a shared set of measures or standards to be used for benchmarking purposes and to enable libraries to demonstrate their value to their institutions. Findings – The initiative established eight customer-facing service standards which were agreed as being applicable to all of the University Library members of RLUK. These include a range of quality indicators focused on services rated as important to the largest customer group – undergraduate students. The service standards include measures on areas such as shelving turn-around, time taken to obtain materials on reading lists, opening hours, information literacy teaching and inter-library loans. In addition, the UK National Student Survey data are included on satisfaction rates for library services, with a benchmark target set at 90 per cent. Originality/value – Notwithstanding the SCONUL Annual Statistics exercise, this is the first time in the UK that a collaborative approach to the development of service standards has been attempted for a group of research libraries. The initiative also demonstrates the increased commitment amongst research libraries to the fundamental principles surrounding excellent customer service – in particular the need to demonstrate service quality and proactively identify gaps in services so that these can be addressed, and services can be improved on a continual basis.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Information Services
Publisher: Emerald
ISSN: 1467-8047
Date of Acceptance: 20 June 2016
Last Modified: 01 Jul 2019 13:30

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