Developing Metrics for Innovation in the World of Libraries

In an era marked by rapid digital transformation, the role of libraries in fostering innovation and user involvement has never been more critical. In the Deliverable ‘Mapping of existing studies and metrics’, the LibrarIN team embarked on a journey to uncover existing research that could inform the development of meaningful indicators for library innovations.

A comprehensive literature search revealed valuable insights into three key areas relevant to innovation in libraries: user satisfaction, technology adoption, and the myriad of innovation activities within libraries. This exploration spanned across public libraries, accessible to all community members, and specialized research or academic libraries affiliated with higher education and governmental research institutions.

Despite the wealth of qualitative insights, Anthony Arundel and Nordine Es-Sadki’s review faced a significant hurdle: the scarcity of data conducive to constructing robust innovation indicators. The need for statistically representative and comparable data across different jurisdictions emerged as a crucial gap. Their findings highlighted a few instances of comparable data, such as user satisfaction with computer equipment across select countries and technology adoption in makerspaces and social media usage, but these were the exceptions rather than the rule.

Amidst these challenges, certain surveys stood out, offering glimpses into the potential for measuring innovation in libraries. Notably, a survey from Australian university libraries and the Danish public sector Innobarometer survey provided valuable data on user involvement in innovation, the introduction of service innovations, and the factors promoting or hindering library innovations.

Given the limitations encountered, the existing literature primarily serves as a wellspring of ideas for crafting the forthcoming work package survey. This future survey aims to delve into leadership, organizational culture for innovation, user involvement, and the barriers to incorporating users in the innovation process.

As the authors mention, the journey to adequately measure innovation in libraries is fraught with challenges, from the absence of academic consensus to the lack of specific questions in national library surveys. This gap underscores a broader issue within the public sector’s innovation measurement, highlighting an area ripe for development and exploration.


Read the full deliverable here.