Library Improvement through Data Analytics

Jul 2016 | 192pp

Price: £54.95
CILIP members price: £43.96

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Library Improvement through Data Analytics

Lesley S J Farmer and Alan M Safer

This book shows how to act on and make sense of data in libraries. Using a range of techniques, tools and methodologies it explains how data can be used to help inform decision making at every level.

Sound data analytics is the foundation for making an evidence-based case for libraries, in addition to guiding myriad organizational decisions, from optimizing operations for efficiency to responding to community needs. Designed to be useful for beginners as well as those with a background in data, this book introduces the basics of a six point framework that can be applied to a variety of library settings for effective system based, data-driven management. 

Library Improvement Through Data Analytics includes:

  • the basics of statistical concepts
  • recommended data sources for various library functions and processes, and guidance for using census, university, or government data in analysis
  • techniques for cleaning data
  • matching data to appropriate data analysis methods
  • how to make descriptive statistics more powerful by spotlighting relationships
  • 14 practical case studies, covering topics such as access and retrieval, digitization, e-book collection development, staffing, facilities, and instruction.

This book’s clear, concise coverage will enable librarians, archivists, curators and technologists of every experience level to gain a better understanding of statistics in order to facilitate library improvement.


1. Introduction
2. Planning with Six Sigma


3. Defining the Project
4. Measure the Current Situation
5. Analyze Existing Processes
6. Improve or Introduce the Process
7. Control the Process


8.  Cleaning Data
9. Getting Started with Statistics
10.  Matching Data Analytic Methods to Data
11. Statistical and Survey Software for Libraries


12. Access and Retrieval: Case Study
13. Benchmarking Library Standards: Case Study
14. Data Sets: Case Study
15. Digitization: Case Study
16. Ebook Collection Development: Case Study
17. Facilities: Case Study
18. Information Audit: Case Study
19. Instruction: Case Study
20. Knowledge Management: Case Study
21. Lending Devices: Case Study
22. Marketing Virtual Reference Services: Case Study
23. Optimizing Online Use: Case Study
24. Reference Staffing Patterns: Case Study
25. True Costs of Acquisitions: Case Study with Implications for Selection Practice

“Data-driven decision-making is essential for effective library management in the 21st century. But the tools to develop that analysis are not readily available for library administrators. Library Improvement through Data Analytics is a practical guide with clear and detailed steps for applying Six Sigma, an effective model for targeted library improvement analysis. Applying this technique to library processes and programs can improve performance and productivity, reduce expenses and increase satisfaction of users and staff. The compelling case studies will support library administrators in deploying these important tools to make the case successfully for their libraries.” 
- Susan Hildreth, Professor of Practice, UW ISchool

“Farmer and Safer make the case for deliberate, rigorous use of data to evaluate library programs and procedures … While smaller libraries may not be able to use the Six Sigma Steps and Pearson correlations in their entirety, they can gain useful insight from this book on how to gather, clean, and analyze data in order to improve their processes, services, or facilities.” 

Dr. Lesley S. J. Farmer, professor at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB), coordinates the Librarianship Program. She earned her MS in library science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and received her doctorate in adult education from Temple University. She has worked as a librarian in K–12 school settings, as well as in public, special, and academic libraries. She chairs the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions’ School Libraries Section and is a Fulbright Scholar. Dr. Farmer received the American Library Association Beta Phi Mu Award for distinguished service and library education, as well as several other professional association awards, and national and international grants. Farmer’s research interests include information literacy, assessment, and educational technology, especially digital citizenship. A frequent presenter and writer for the profession, Farmer has published over 30 professional books and more than a 100 professional book chapters and articles.

Dr. Alan M. Safer is a professor at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics. He received his PhD in Statistics from the University of Wyoming and his MS in Marketing Research from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. He first came to CSULB as an assistant professor in 2000 and has been a full professor since 2010. Early in his career at the university, he created a MS degree in Applied Statistics and later a professional accelerated MS degree in Applied Statistics for industry students from companies such as Boeing, Raytheon, and Northrop Grumman. He served as the graduate advisor for 7 years, and in 2009 was awarded university advisor of the year at CSULB. Dr. Safer’s research has been very interdisciplinary; he has over 25 publications in diverse statistical areas such as finance, library science, marketing, health science, linguistics, and forensics. His primary statistical research focus is data mining and quality control. In 2012, he was appointed coordinator of a national conference on quality control sponsored by the American Statistical Association. In the last few years, Dr. Safer helped create the Orange County/Long Beach chapter of the American Statistical Association and served as its vice president