Current trends in the collection and use of statistics in african libraries
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CURRENT TRENDS IN THE COLLECTION AND USE OF STATISTICS IN AFRICAN LIBRARIES. Dr. Elisha R.T. Chiware University of Namibia. CONTENTS. Historical note – academic and public libraries Background to survey Part A: Library statistics collection

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Current trends in the collection and use of statistics in african libraries


Dr. Elisha R.T. Chiware

University of Namibia



  • Historical note – academic and public libraries

  • Background to survey

  • Part A: Library statistics collection

  • Part B: Main types of statistics collected by most libraries

  • Part C: Methods for collection of library statistics

  • Conclusion

Historical note academic libraries

Historical note – academic libraries

  • The International African Institute (1997) published three volumes on:

    • University Libraries in Africa: a review of their current state and future potential. The volumes are made up of case studies which include a range of statistical data detailing:

      • Library collection sizes

      • Library staff

      • Expenditure

      • interlibrary loans

      • Donor support

      • Library use

Historical note academic libraries1

Historical note – academic libraries

  • The International Network for Availability of Scientific Publications (INASP) organized and funded a Workshop on the Collection and Use of Library Statistics in University Libraries which took place in Zimbabwe in 1997.

  • An Annual Statistical Return was drafted and three libraries took part in a pilot collection project.

  • Statistical data from these libraries was published in a volume entitled Annual Library Statistics 1997/98, available from INASP

Historical note academic libraries2

Historical note – academic libraries

  • The Association of African Universities (AAU) based in Ghana promised to continue the work of INASP, but ever since 1999, no other work has emerged from this initiative.

Historical note academic libraries3

Historical note – academic libraries

  • A number of African libraries are featured in the Global Library Statistics 1990-2000 compiled by IFLA using data from UNESCO and Libecon. The Global library Statistics covered areas of:

    • Library servicing the public

    • Library collections

    • New media

    • Usage and users

    • Library staffing

    • Library expenditure

Historical note academic libraries4

Historical note – academic libraries

  • INASP has been involved in the provision of electronic services in various countries in Africa.

  • As result of these initiatives many African university libraries have access to various electronic databases.

  • INASP has initiated the monitoring and evaluation of the use of electronic databases (e-journals) in African university libraries.

  • There is a book of case studies on monitoring and evaluation of electronic resources due for publication later this year.

Historical note academic libraries5

Historical note – academic libraries

  • Many university libraries in Africa however do not have software to monitor usage and rely on data collected through the following techniques:

    • •  Suppliers’ data: usage statistics of electronic resources subscribed through PERI programme is provided by suppliers.

    • •  Library user statistics: usage data is collected from e-resource service points within the library. Users are required to register and indicate which e-resources they intend to use. Information collected includes name, status, year of study, faculty/department, title of e-resource, etc.

    • •  User queries: librarians monitor and analyze requests and questions from users on specific e-resources.

    • •  User surveys: UDSM Library conducts periodic user surveys to gather key information about resources and services.

Historical note public libraries

Historical note – public libraries

  • South Africa - efforts to standardize the collection of statistics in public libraries.

    • Funding from the Carnegie Corporation of New York

      • Working Group on Public Library Statistics (WGPLS)

        • to facilitate the drafting of a simple form for regular collection of statistics from public libraries so that three databases could be kept up to date

        • ( 1. a library directory containing identification and descriptive data about libraries),

        • 2. a demographic database containing relevant demographic information and

        • 3. A geographic database containing geographical information such as municipal boundaries and location data for the libraries )

Background to survey

Background to survey

Collecting library statistics

Collecting library statistics

The objective of collecting library statistics is "to assess the quality and effectiveness of services [and resources] provided by the library" (Poll, 2001,p.307).

Importance of collecting statistics

Importance of collecting statistics

The collection of library statistics

  • provides an essential foundation for quality library services

  • is a powerful management tool assisting libraries in establishing good practice, decision-making and user support

  • can be used for securing and allocating funding

  • reflects use patterns influencing collection development

Importance of collecting statistics1

Importance of collecting statistics

  • Usage statistics can be used to develop performance indicators for outcomes assessment.

  • Annual (national/international) statistical reports allow a library to compare itself to peer libraries, past experience and desirable goals.

  • It allows for self-assessment, benchmarking and improvement of library services.

Challenges re library statistics

Challenges re library statistics

  • Manual collection of statistics is time-consuming

  • Staff lack knowledge and skills in regard to the collecting, analysing and reporting of library statistics

  • Management lack knowledge and skills to integrate statistics into library decision-making

Purpose of survey

Purpose of survey

  • Commissioned by the IFLA Section on Statistics and Evaluation

  • Aims to establish current trends in the collection and use of library statistics in African libraries

Research methodology

Research methodology

  • Data collection took place during July 2008

  • Target audience: Academic, national and public libraries throughout Africa

  • A descriptive research approach was applied to data collection

  • A self-administered questionnaire was emailed to the target group

  • SPSS (Statistical Package for Social Sciences) was used to analyse the data

Response rate

Response rate

  • 132 questionnaires were emailed

  • 28 emails were undeliverable

  • 16 completed questionnaires were returned by 4 August 2008

  • Response rate: 15.4%

Respondents number of libraries participating in this survey


Library statistics collection

Library statistics collection


Reasons for collecting library statistics

Reasons for collecting library statistics

Main types of statistics collected by most libraries

Main types of statistics collected by most libraries


Types of library statistics collected

Types of library statistics collected

  • A wide variety of statistics were collected , as well as a wide range in the frequency of collection

    The main types of statistics collected by most libraries:

  • Number of loans: 85.7%

  • Library acquisitions: 85.7%

  • Library materials processing (i.e. cataloguing and classification): 78.6%

  • Use of electronic databases: 71.4%

  • Number of library staff: 71.4%

  • Library expenditure: 71.4%

Other statistics also collected

Other statistics also collected

Compilation of statistical reports

Compilation of statistical reports

Publication of library statistics

Publication of library statistics

  • Annual, quarterly and monthly reports

  • Brochures

  • Departmental/Faculty/University Senate reports

  • HEQC evaluation reports

  • Library Director’s/Library Committee reports

  • Newsletters

  • Plasma screens

  • Research and self-evaluation reports

  • Library website and Intranet

Methods used for collection of library statistics

Methods used for collection of library statistics


Statistics collection library sections

Statistics collection: Library sections

Statistics collection whole library

Statistics collection: Whole library

Manual and or electronic collection

Manual and/or electronic collection

Manual collection

Manual collection

Usually done on a daily basis by physically counting items/users. These statistics are then forwarded to the person responsible for the Library Management Information System.

Electronic statistics examples of software

Electronic statistics: Examples of software

  • ADLIB (e.g. Number of loans)

  • Aleph (e.g. Size of collection)

  • CDS ISIS (e.g. Electronic databases)

  • DoNet (e.g. Reference queries)

  • ePrints (e.g. Institutional repositories)

  • Excel (e.g. User training)

  • Innopac report Module (e.g. Cataloguing and classification)

  • ITS (e.g. Number of library users)

  • Millennium (e.g. E-resources)

  • OCLC (e.g. Cataloguing and classification)

  • Oracle (e.g. Number of library staff)

  • PALS (e.g. Number of loans)

  • Prolib (e.g. Cataloguing and classification)

  • PROMIS (e.g. Library budget)

  • QuestionPoint (e.g. Reference queries)

  • 3M (e.g. Gate counts)



Positive aspects of this survey

Positive aspects of this survey

  • It reflects the extent of library services in those African libraries participating in this survey.

  • It provides a current picture of African libraries with regard to the trends in collection and use of statistics.

  • It is an important tool for addressing weaknesses in African library and information services.

Areas for improvement

Areas for improvement

  • There is no agreement on the type of library statistics to be collected.

  • There is no consensus on how data must be collected, analysed, presented and applied.

  • There is a wide gap in the type and frequency of statistics collected between technologically advanced libraries and those less fortunate.

  • There is no national or African database of comparative library statistics available.

Any questions or comments


Dr. Elisha R.T. Chiware

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