As we move through changes value becomes a critical word. The values of libraries are important; the value that libraries create in a changing world must be promoted and demonstrated. If libraries are not valuable to somebody, then talking about their values does not get us very far. Discussions of values and the demonstration of value are cropping up everywhere.
I gave a talk at a public institution a while ago where I claimed that a major issue facing libraries was making sure that the political administration within their domain recognised the value they created. A member of the audience questioned this and expressed some disdain for talking to ‘sleazy politicians’. I was in turn shocked by the naivity of the questioner.
I was reminded of the importance of the topic when I alighted upon the strategy pages of the British Library. Here, they really hammer on the theme of “increasing our value”. Some preliminary (glossy) materials are available now. They promise a new mission statement and strategic plan in Spring 2005. It will be interesting how they treat the value question. Of course, the BL has taken a lead in thinking about demonstrating value …
Demonstrating Value – a one-day conference held at the British Library on Monday 21 June 2004 – was organised to explore the innovative ways in which public and voluntary sector organisations can measure their value and demonstrate the benefits they deliver. The Library organised the conference in the wake of national and international interest in its ground-breaking economic impact assessment study (PDF format) – the first undertaken by a national library. [Demonstrating Value]