Compiled by

Jon Hardisty, Royal National Institute of Blind People, National Library Service, England
Sebastian Mundt, Hochschule der Medien Stuttgart, Germany

With thanks to colleagues from the IFLA Statistics and Evaluation Section and IFLA LPD Section Committee and member organisations who gave the invaluable thoughts and feedback which have enabled the development of these indicators.

Why a specific set of indicators for Libraries for Print Disabled Persons?

Libraries serving print disabled persons have long recognised the importance of measuring performance. The IFLA professional report “Libraries for the blind in the information age: guidelines for development” (IFLA, 2005.  IFLA professional report no. 86) recommends performance measurement as a tool for demonstrating value, decision making and planning.  Nevertheless, while there is some evidence of data being collected in some organisations, it has proved hard for libraries serving print disabled people to compare performance.

Evidence of this situation is provided by the difficulties encountered by previous LPD sponsored projects: the international benchmarking project START in 2005 (Project START, 2006) and the international study of governance and funding of libraries for the blind carried out in 2007 (Funding and governance of library and information services for visually impaired people: international case studies. Rightscom, 2007). The first recommendation of the latter study was that

Service providers should make it a priority to improve the level of knowledge and understanding of how well services are performing by developing accurate comparable measures – including measures of the actual experience of users (addressed particularly to: service providers and IFLA).”

The difficulties are in part due to the different functionality and customer requirements of libraries serving print disabled people compared with other kinds of libraries. For example, many specialist libraries for print disabled people also have significant book transcription and production functions. The governance study referenced above shows that specialist services operate within a variety of business models in different countries. Some organisations collect some data but there are gaps; and there are also no agreed definitions or standards.

This document now introduces a set of indicators that have been developed from the ISO 11620:2008 standard, which sets a general framework. As described above, the requirements of libraries serving print disabled persons introduce specific aspects that go beyond the scope of a general standard. Where necessary, existing definitions and performance indicators have been altered and new ones have been introduced based on feedback given by representatives of member libraries of IFLA’s “Libraries Serving Persons with Print Disabilities” Section.

As feedback has shown, not all the indicators will be relevant to all libraries. However, by using those common indicators which are, and by adopting those which in future become useful (e.g. by moving to digital production or delivery methods), libraries for print disabled persons can make a meaningful comparison of performance indicators across a range of common activities.