Magazine article Information Today

Analyze This

Magazine article Information Today

Analyze This

Article excerpt

In these days of expanding demands and decreasing budgets, libraries are trying to do more with less. This means better program planning and analysis. There are many ways to improve library efficiency and effectiveness, including the use of the Six Sigma framework. Developed at Motorola in the 1980s, Six Sigma is now used in many organizations to promote the continuous improvement of processes and products. It emphasizes using data and statistics for analysis and decision making. While more common in the industrial sector, Six Sigma has been applied in libraries. Library Improvement Through Data Analytics, written by a librarian and a statistician, helps us understand how we can use this concept to improve our libraries.

Lesley S.J. Farmer is a professor and the coordinator of the Librarianship Program, which provides certification for school librarians, at California State University- Long Beach. She has worked in a number of libraries and is an active scholar and researcher, having written many professional articles and books. Alan M. Safer is a professor in the department of mathematics and statistics at the same university. His research focuses on quality control and data mining. He has done interdisciplinary work in several areas, including library science.

Six Sigma

Farmer and Safer introduce librarians to Six Sigma concepts and how to apply them in libraries. The book begins with a justification for why libraries should use quantitative data analysis. The authors then describe the two main models of Six Sigma, DMAIC and DMADV, which vary mostly in their concluding steps. DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control) is for improving existing processes, and DMADV (Define, Measure, Analyze, Design, Verify) is for creating new processes. The first three steps are the same for both, with only the last two differing for existing versus new processes. Farmer and Safer emphasize that Six Sigma requires "leader commitment to the project and to the dependence on data to make decisions." These commitments can result in measurable improvements in libraries.

Library Improvement Through Data Analytics is presented in two main sections. First is a discussion of the steps of Six Sigma and basic statistics that can be used in its application. This is followed by a number of library-specific examples of how it can work. Discussion of the steps focuses on improving existing processes rather than creating new ones. The first step is to define the project. We must consider what is worth improving and determine the essential elements. The authors advise that "identifying one significant area for improvement tends to maximize improvement and input. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.