Public libraries demonstrating value to the organisation. Fingal County Libraries and Fingal County Council - a case study
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MSc Information and Library Management
Dublin Business School
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This study explores the perception of councillors and senior management of Fingal County Council of the contribution and value Fingal Libraries Department adds to the organisation. The aim of the research is to get an in-depth understanding of what councillors and senior management feel the role of Fingal Libraries is, the value of the service to the Council and whether library management is doing enough to demonstrate and communicate this value to this important group of stakeholders. This was primarily a qualitative case study involving face to face and e-mailed interviews with Fingal councillors and senior management. Members of the library management team were also interviewed to ascertain their views on the issue. Overall it appears that councillors and senior management are very much aware of the role of Fingal Libraries and the department’s place in the organisation. In terms of measuring and evaluating the service to demonstrate value the consensus appears to be that economic evaluation should be approached with caution as Fingal County Council is a public sector organisation providing services to the community. Traditional statistics combined with measuring outcomes and social benefit were the preferred measures of value. The role of libraries in the provision of physical resources, access to technology, economic development, promoting literacy, art and culture are all considered to add value. The concept of the library as a ‘space’ and collaboration with internal departments and outside agencies emerged as continuing ways of libraries showing value in to the future. An interesting insight in to respondents’ views on the value of library staff to the organisation also emerged during interviews. The overall conclusion is that councillors and senior management feel that the Library Department demonstrates and communicates its contribution and value to the organisation but agree more could be done – echoing the views of library management.