Showers, Ben and Stone, Graham (2014) Safety in Numbers: Developing a Shared Analytics Service for Academic Libraries. Performance Measurement and Metrics, 15 (1/2). pp. 13-22. ISSN 1467-8047


It is clear that libraries consider the use of data to inform decision making a top priority in the next five years. Jisc’s considerable work on activity data has highlighted the lack of tools and services for libraries to exploit this data.

The purpose of this paper is to explore the potential of a shared analytics service for UK academic libraries and introduce the Jisc Library Analytics and Metrics Project (LAMP).

The project aims to help libraries effectively management collections and services as well as delivering pre-emptive indicators and ‘actionable insights’ to help identify new trends, personalise services and improve efficiencies, economies and effectiveness (student attainment and satisfaction and institutional reputation, for example) . The project builds on the Library Impact Data Project at the University of Huddersfield and the work of the Copac Activity Data and Collections Management tools.

The paper will deliver a case study of the project, its progress to date, the challenges of such an approach and the implications the service has for academic libraries.

Design, methodology or approach

The paper will be a case study of the project and its institutional partners and early adopters work to date and explore both the technical and cultural challenges of the work as well as its implications for the role of the library within the institution and the services it provides.

Specifically the case study will comprise of the following aspects:

1. A brief history of the work and the context of library analytics services in the UK (and internationally). A description of the approach adopted by the project, and the vision and goals of the project

2. Exploration of the challenges associated with the project. In particular the challenges around accessing and sharing the data, ‘warehousing’ and data infrastructure considerations and the design challenge of visualising the data sources in a useful and coherent way

3. Outline of the implications of the project and the resultant service. In particular the implications for benchmarking (within the UK and beyond), standards development for library statistics and impact (in particular the development of ISO 16439), service development, the role of the library within the wider institution and skills and expertise of librarians.


This paper will report on the initial findings of the project, which will run from January 2013 to October 2013. In particular it will consider the issues surfaced through the close engagement with the academic library community (through the projects community advisory and planning group) and the institutional early-adopters around data gathering and analysis.

Practical implications

Data accumulated in one context has the potential to inform decisions and interventions elsewhere. While there are a number of recognised and well understood use-cases for library analytics these tend to revolve around usage and collection management. Yet, the potential of a shared analytics service is in uncovering those links and indicators across diverse data sets.

The paper will consider a number of practical impacts:

Performance: benchmarking, student attainment, research productivity

Design: fine tuning services, personalised support

Trends: research landscape, student marketplace, utilisation of resources.

The case study will explore these practical implications for libraries and what they mean for the future of the library within the academy.

Originality and value of the proposal

The paper will present a case study of a unique service that currently fills an important gap within the library analytics space. The paper will focus on the services potential to transform both the way the library works and how it is erceived by its users, as well as its role and relationship within the broader institution.

Showers_and_Stone_-_LAMP.pdf - Accepted Version

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