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62nd IFLA General Conference - Conference Proceedings - August 25-31, 1996

Management-Support-Systems And National Library Statistics: The German Case

Ulrich Hofmann


Decision-structures, models and the architecture of management-support systems will be explained. For this a concrete decision-framework (Raster) will be developed - embedded in EXCEL software. For a possible content of the database, the contribution of the 'Deutsche Bibliotheksstatistik' (German Library Statistics) will be examined within the framework of a case study. The suitability of these national statistics within the framework of a management-support system for complexity-reduction and co-ordination must be evaluated with care. Linked with this is the clear identification of trends and the analysis of specific categories.


1. Management-Support-Systems: Functions, advantages, limits: as in any other business in the public or private sector the task of library management is target oriented to plan and achieve one's aims through the control and provision of information. This must be accomplished through an overview and, when deviating from the targets set, decision-making processes must be initiated. To detect and solve problems or to monitor actual deviations from target is management's principal information task. Without information on the quality of services, staff qualifications, the effects of new technologies on the multistage product chain and financial resources, one can expect at best the possibility of 'muddling through'. This means that information should be obtained through using mo dels, and decisions based on unique observations, rather than on complex explanations. Relevant information can only be stored, continued, extended and properly connected with the help of proven methods for management-decision-support, within the framework of an in-house information system. However the advantages of such a management- information-system (as for example to reduce complexity and co -ordination - linked with the clear recognition of trends and viewing data in categories) must be set against the costs involved in systematically obtaining and processing information.

2. The Architecture of Management-Support-Systems (MUS): The architecture of MUS consists of three elements: the database, the programme and the end-user interface or application-support. Within the framework of modern PC-backed spreadsheet programs like EXCEL for example, the possibility of structuring a database has been broadly developed; through the integration of data-bases, and throu gh fourth generation programming languages, it has become possible to offer a very friendly user-interface.

3. The Aim of the Investigation: The database in the forefront of this investigation is set up within the framework of the Deutsche Bibliotheksstatistik (German Library Statistics). These are national statistics which are compiled by questionnaire within the framework of an annual census by the Deutsche Bibliotheksinstitut (German Library Institute), a national institution to support libra ries.

The aim of this study is to consider

4. Library Input Output Analysis: A matrix is set up on the basis of the value chain analysis (Wertschopfungskette) where the rows contain the criteria or the indicators of the analysis (Wertschpfungsfelder), and the columns show the data relevant to decisions (target v. actual comparison). For example, from this matrix the following diagram was assembled which shows the patt ern of the EXCEL-structured table or matrix.

Diagram: Decision Grid

5. Decision grid (Entscheidungsraster): An explanation follows: After the naming of the decision-support-criterion (1), the next question is about the objective (2) relative to this criterion. Here macro structural perspectives of the analysis will be dominant. Subsequently, data sources (3) which are available to executives are shown. In accordance with this study's objectives the source to be noted and evaluated is the German Library Statistics (Deutsche Bibliotheksstatistik). Within the framework of indicators (Kennzahlen) (4) a useful and meaningful summary and comparison of data follows. These numbers are of significant help for planning (target values) and control (actual values). Indicators can be used in practice particularly for:

Indicators should clarify the facts of the situation and show them in appropriate categories. Consequently they provide an essential contribution to reduce management confusion.

The actual situation (5) for both indicators and absolute data is, as a rule, less relevant for managerial decisions than the status-quo prognosis or trend (6). Plans and subsequent decisions need time to develop, and they are especially effective when based on early warning. In this way decisions can be taken early to avoid mistakes before they are made. This need for a decision is shown clearly in the field Strategic Gap (7). Gaps, or decision needs, are based on the Target-Actual (Soll-Ist) comparison. The target situation (Soll-Zustand) (8) can be objective and limiting as - for example - the budget (financial capacity). But in most cases it is part of the library policy of the institution, i.e. it is defined or determined at managerial levels with the consent of the em ployees within the framework of targets set. Benchmarking (9) refers to inter-company comparisons. As a rule, within the framework of structural comparisons, a comparable library institution has to be found. Such comparisons are meant to give enterprises an answer to the question of "where are we situated?" Measures (10) are of a suggestive nature.

7. Case Study Example: In the following the Decision Grid explained above will be connected to the German Library Statistics (Deutsche Bibliotheksstatistik). We will then show an actual example where the initial data refer to the Hamburg University Library and the benchmarking refers to the Munster University Library. The two universities for which both libraries have to cater are of the s ame size (equal number of students, equal teaching and research staff).

A. Financial Capacity: The quality of public service is a political decision. If one's own expenditure growth rate is lower than the growth of the national product, then this is a sign for the library to argue its case more strongly, i.e. its public relations. The basis of this argument can only be worked out through library decision models, including their empirical form. The discussion o f such models- let alone translating them into action- is no longer widespread in business.

The policy priorities for library services become even more clear when, rather than looking at the absolute growth of the total expenditure, the development of student numbers is considered. The statistic for total expenditure per student shows: Hamburg spends DM 499,-, Munster DM 345,- (1994) per student. The trend factors of additional expenditure per year amount to DM 23.66 [4.74%] (Hamburg) o r DM 17.88 [5.18%] (Munster). In Hamburg the expenditure per student is nearly 2% lower than the growth rate of the national product. (The growth of the national product in the Federal Republic within this period was 6.5% at current market prices).

Diagram: Policy Priorities in Academic Politics

B. Staff:

1. The trend increase of staff expenditure is an additional DM 806.160 (Hamburg) and DM 468.265 (Munster) per year. These values, referring to the year 1994, correspond to 5.5% in Hamburg and 2.1% in Munster. Assuming that the standard of the services in both libraries remains constant- the number of the students being equal- one can presume that the library in Hamburg has an efficiency problem i n the staff field. Consequently, the organisation of the programme, motivation etc. would need to be investigated.

Graph: Staff Expenditure

2. The division of labour between academically qualified librarians (in Germany "upper services", lower academically qualified librarians (in Germany professional and executive levels) and semiskilled workers is documented in the German Library Statistics (DBS). Although Hamburg and Munster work with exactly the same employees in the upper echelon (honours graduates), the spread of staf f categories is different, due to the different proportions of staff in each library. Hamburg has placed more activities in the lower job-bracket than Munster.

_ Graph Staff Categories

3. The most important control feature for the private sector, the productivity of staff, cannot be found in the German Library Statistics (DBS). The private sector pursues this value consistently within its accountancy framework - using some complex indicators.

D. Acquisition/ Input logistics: The composition of stock can only be assessed in relation to demand. In the supply figures there is a very detailed division of expenditure by subjects- these are divided according to monographic publications and journals. By benchmarking libraries could compare their supply profiles amongst each other. Their respective supply policies are displayed in deta il within the framework of a classification for the expenditure on the separate subjects. Here benchmarking is a significant aid to develop budgets and to planning. The extent of acquisition expenditure is visible through the indicator: Acquisition of monographs per year/number of students. Media items were acquired amounting to DM 1.05 in Hamburg and DM 1.12 in Munster per student and year.

Diagram: Expenditure by category

E. Economy, Efficiency: Differentiated analysis of costs cannot be made. There is a lack of base-data for cost accounting - as, for example, the average time for processing work, etc. Very general statements can be made with the help of the indicator "total expenditure/ loans", "total expenditure/ stocks". The total costs of the library can be indicated related to loans for 1994: DM 22.93 per loan in Hamburg and in Munster DM 14.05. The trend increase (Trendwachstum) amounts to an additional DM 0.71 per year (Hamburg) and DM 0.64 (Munster). All figures are calculated with a high degree of certainty. The trend increase in unit costs shows no fixed cost effect, i.e. decreasing unit prices and increasing output. The value of staff expenditure dominates this infor mation intensive service. In order to draw a comparison with this indicator, which is very general anyway, an equal standard of services must be assumed.

G. The End User Benefits: Quality of library services: Library activities to obtain and process books have no intrinsic value; they only become useful when the communicated media or information provide users with an efficient and effective contribution to solve their problems. Behind this lies a network of quality criteria. For instance, Acquisition procedures and speed of getting the desi red catalogue records lie in the efficiency area. Effectiveness is based, for example, on these factors:- staff competence in integrating clients formulated demands, systematic searching, processing, analysing activity by target groups, relevance to the user's needs, precision (i.e. smooth operation). These quality criteria are applied to library services in the ISO-draft [ISO/TC46/SC8N91]. The G erman Library Statistics (DBS) do not contain any information whatever to satisfy these standards. Nevertheless, they provide large-scale approximate indicators, which allow, to a limited extent, assessment of users' acceptance of the library.

Acceptance of the library: A possible indicator could be "loans per student": The actual situation in Hamburg is 21 MI/student (1994). The increase per year is +0.17 MI (0.8%). The target value is analytically difficult to determine. Possibly the best approach is benchmarking. In Munster 24 MI/student were lent out in 1994 and the trend factor (Trendfaktor) is negative -0.09. In both libraries therefore, there is stagnation. The influence of electronic services are excluded here, reflecting their recent development and the technical situation in Germany. It is not clear whether a strategic gap exists or not. First of all some quality surveys would have to be undertaken. In any case it is anticipated there will be a structural break as we approach the worldwide availabili ty of digitalised texts. A status quo prognosis cannot be supported in this time of radical change.

_ Diagram: Acceptance of the Library

Market penetration A possible identification number could be "active users per catchment area or per number of students". In Hamburg this indicator is 67%, i.e. out of three students two use the library. The trend factor is negative -0.07, i.e. every year 7% of the potentially reachable users drop out. If one were to project this status quo (without any major interventions or ch anges occurring), to the year 2000, then only 28% of the students would be users of the library! The graph shows that the degree of activation is decreasing dramatically. Furthermore, one can foresee that the local use of libraries will decrease even further with the possibility in the near future of accessing digitalised information worldwide. The target situation would be a 100%-inclusion of al l potential users. Benchmarking shows that Munster comes very close to this goal.

_ Diagram: Proportion of Active Library Users

Library Local Access Possible indicators could be "Library-opening hours" or "library opening hours/ retail business hours". The strategic gap in opening hours would result from comparing retail business hours in Hamburg, or by benchmarking for Munster. Munster's opening hours exceed retail business hours.

Conclusion: The task of national statistics is to gather data from all library institutions, in order to enable macro-structural statements on the one hand, and on the other to allow the exercise of benchmarking. The German Library Statistics (DBS) provide information about key features of resources in libraries, very general details of output volumes, and a rough resource division. The us e of resources for individual actions or services is not reported, so no cost statements can be made. The use of a library and its quality constraints cannot be described by the German Library Statistics (DBS) either in economic or in individual terms.

_ Decision Grid:

Management Support Criteria

General aims


Data sourcesIndicatorActual resultTrendTargetStrategic Gap
3 4 5 6 7 8
BenchmarkingMeasures to close the strategic gap
9 10

Management Support Criteria

Policy Priorities in Academic Politics

General aimsMonitoring priorities in academic politics
Data sourcesIndicatorActual resultTrendTargetStrategic Gap

expenditure per student DM 499(1994)
DM 23,66 p.a.
GNP trend factor
BenchmarkingMeasures to close the strategic gap
DM 345 (1994)
Trend DM 19.90
Balance of factors (Resource distribution)



Management Support Criteria

Acceptance of the Library

General aimsMaximisation of loans

Data sourcesIndicatorActual resultTrendTargetStrategic Gap


loans/stu dent

1994: 21
Trend factor +0.17

BenchmarkingMeasures to close the strategic gap
1994: 24
Trend factor - 0.09

Quality Management


Management Support Criteria

Proportion of Active Library Users

General aimsMaximum inclusion of users by attractiveness/ market penetration
Data sourcesIndicatorActual resultTrendTargetStrategic Gap


Active users/ students
Catchment area

1994: 0.67
Trend factor -0.07; B= 0.63
Year 2000: 0.28

0.72 (28% of students as users in the year 2000
BenchmarkingMeasures to close the strategic gap

Münster: 0.92
PR work
Quality Management