Evaluating the impact of a Special Library and Information Service
Journal of Librarianship and Information Science
25 Annettehof Veld Street, Glen Marais 1619, South Africa
The mere fact that a library service is being used does not mean that the service makes a difference or has a positive impact on the user. This has significant implications for Special Library and Information Services (SL&IS) that have to constantly prove that they add value. Because of the difficulty of measuring impact effectively, the majority of libraries still appear to measure performance quantitatively (how many books do we have, how many are used etc.) instead of looking at the difference the service actually makes. This paper discusses specifically the impact an information service has on the ability of natural science researchers to perform their research effectively and efficiently. A focus group, short survey and 15 interviews were conducted with researchers that use SL&IS in their research at the South African Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) ĝ€" the largest research Council in Africa. The results showed that researchers felt that Library and Information Services have a positive impact on the research process. The two most important indicators of impact chosen by the researchers were firstly, time saved in information retrieval and delivery and secondly, higher success rate in research. In contrast with Poll's (2005) view, researchers felt that Library and Information Services do not necessarily impact on growing their skills and competencies or their attitude and behaviour as researchers. The relationship between the librarian and the researcher also came to light as very important in the research process. The study also identified further important indicators of impact which will serve as the foundation for a more in-depth research study.