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Reviewed by:
  • Managing with Data: Using ACRLMetrics and PLAmetrics by Peter Hernon, Robert E. Dugan, Joseph R. Matthews
  • Bernd W. Becker
Managing with Data: Using ACRLMetrics and PLAmetrics, Peter Hernon, Robert E. Dugan, and Joseph R. Matthews. Chicago: ALA (American Library Association) editions, 2015. 232pages. $85.00. (ISBN 978-0-8389-1243-0)

As we recover from a national financial crisis, libraries struggle to demonstrate their worth and impact in order to justify increasingly tight budgets. Public and academic library administrators find themselves scrambling for funds that were once granted freely. Unfortunately, many of us are at a loss to deliver a meaningful justification for how programs and services are managed and to establish the library’s value for stakeholders.

Managing with Data: Using ACRL-Metrics and PLAmetrics by Peter Hernon, Robert Dugan, and Joseph Matthews addresses these issues in an accessible guide that also details many of the fundamental principles of library management. Focusing in each chapter on a different aspect of the library (Collections, Services, Staffing, Benchmarking, Best Practices), the authors demonstrate the efficient and effective use of institutional data in the library’s daily operations.

Managing with Data is clear and easy to read and serves as a workbook that provides access to some of the most powerful data services in the field. A companion website connects the reader to a subset of ACRLMetrics and PLAmetrics, online services providing access to statistics on academic libraries from the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) and National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) and to statistics on public libraries from the Public Library Association (PLA). This collection of national data covers multiple years and can be manipulated to locate peer libraries, identify trends, and draw performance comparisons. Clear and relevant exercises embedded throughout the book give the reader an opportunity to interact with the same real-world data discussed in the text. This unique learning experience creates a tangible connection between theory and performance.

The scope of Managing with Data goes beyond working with library data within ACRLMetrics and PLAmetrics. The second half of the book serves as a guide to using best practices and assessment, illustrating these with a wide range of case studies. Furthermore, it demonstrates that evidence-based decision-making does not remove the human factors from library management. Whether a library is public or academic, rural or urban, managing with data requires a responsible knowledge of standards that pertain to particular library contexts and surroundings. The book concludes with discussions about the appropriate use of data sets to promote accountability and relevance.

Managing with Data will benefit anyone in a management or administrative role, whether new to the position or a seasoned veteran. The topics covered are timely in an era when libraries are required to demonstrate the value of their operations and that of the services they provide. The volume could also be used as a textbook in a library science course. This comprehensive introduction to working with data will help plan the direction and measure the value of any library. [End Page 653]

Bernd W. Becker
Psychology Librarian
San José State University, California


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