(ROI) Truth to Power: Measuring & Talking about What Matters #InternetLibrarian @mebs

Mary Ellen Bates

Slides here: http://conferences.infotoday.com/documents/293/B202_Bates.pdf

“What gets measured matters,” but
“Not everything that can be counted counts.”

How data vs. Why data
How data may be useful for internal staff, but it’s not ROI.

Outcome data: the value, the impact of what you’re doing.
(Referring to previous session: being a trusted advisor may take a lot of time, but if you’re doing it for someone high up in your organization, that’s the best ROI you can get.)

Cost of material vs. circulation:
20% of cost * # circulation = value (assuming they would have paid at least 20% for a used book)
Journal routing saves $ vs. article purchases
ILL also saves article purchases (c. $40)

Show impact on revenue:
Patents
Supporting your city council
Student success
Patron engagement goals
Solicit testimonials of impact (especially when you do a big-deal research project). You can just send an e-mail; people don’t usually volunteer their gratitude.

Show impact on your organization:

Supporting employee development -> improved employee retention. (A tech company had employees bringing kids to work, so the library included children’s books. People have cited the library as a reason they’ve stayed with the company.)

Effective outreach to stakeholders resulted in [an action on stakeholder’s part]. Why did they contact the library? It was in order that they could do something. What was that thing?

Show impact on org’s staff:

Look at information flows, pain points. Librarians are “information whisperers.”

* Time spent searching (and not finding)
* Duplication of effort within team
* Underutilization of resources

A librarian watches for search boxes on intranet and takes it upon herself to give advice.

True cost of your time:

* annual salary * 1.3 = fully loaded (with benefits, etc.)
* 52 weeks – 4 weeks = 1,920 work hours/year (vacation, holidays)

Salary / work hours = hourly rate

Many of the people we support get paid more than we do.

Outsell said a library interaction saved a user 9 hours.

If 1 hour of your time (@ $68) saves 9 hours of someone else’s time (@ $102), you saved $850.

If you teach people things like how to use your subscription databases vs. fruitless Googling, you saved a lot of money over the course of a year. Same thing if you created a UI to make it easier and more effective to use.

What are your org’s strategic goals for this year?
Do you read your org’s press releases? Do you follow their social media?
Do you follow new ad hoc teams that are set up to do things? (Suggest targeted services for them.)
Read between the lines.
For-profit: increasing no. Of products
University: student job-placement rates
Non-profit: Strengthening relationships with partners

Describing the less-measurable:
Ask users why they are asking that question. (Ask nicely.)
What will this be used for? What’s happening to this information next? (Might also help you format the information so it’s most useful. Help you put it into a presentation, inform a team, guide a decision.)

If your deliverable isn’t frictionless, your clients will go elsewhere.

Follow up after high-value research project:
* What difference did the library make for this project? (Even if the answer is bad news, you can ask what you could do better. And you don’t have to put it in your report!)
* What impact did this make for your outcome?
* What would it cost to achieve [your goal] without [our services]?

Look for programming that will help people.

Embed widgets at pain points
Embed content
Curated daily news!

Look for underutilized resources. Promote it to likely users.

Face-to-face contacts. Feed stuff to “ambassadors” of your services.

Use new language:
Describe yourself by outcome, not activity
“We’re here to make you more successful. What do you need?”

Not: We centralize acquisitions, but we save money.

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