Data literacy and data-driven decision making

How are organisations using data and metrics to model information? Gary Horrocks reports from the UKeiG Members Day.

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UKeiG, a special interest group of CILIP, held a members' day event that explored how organisations in various sectors are analysing, exploiting, utilising, managing and visualising data. The event combined real-life case studies with commentary and horizon scanning and highlighted the range of opportunities opening up to information professionals. 

Opportunities for the library and information professional 

Nick Poole, CILIP Chief Executive, spoke about the opportunities that data literacy offers to the library and information profession. Data literacy is an increasingly important part of working life and ensuring that it is integrated into the knowledge and information skills set will futureproof the profession. Now is the time to respond more effectively to these challenges and opportunities. All too often, library and information professionals have watched things happen, allowing major developments in big data and data science to pass us by.

The profession itself is also crying out for a more robust evidence base, and a gap analysis is required to identify missing critical information that can help articulate our impact, value (return on investment) and importance. 

We’re living in the early days of a revolution in the ways in which people use information and technology in their daily lives. In the next twenty to thirty years, every person, every organisation and business will need access to information, library and data skills and professional values to succeed. Britain’s society, industry and economy are changing fast. Looking ahead to the next decade, we need to invest in skills, infrastructure and innovation to ensure that we remain globally competitive as an economic and industrial power. The Centre for Economics & Business Research (CEBR) estimates that 182,000 new jobs will be created in the Data Sciences by 2020. Demand for data and information skills in the UK is outstripping supply by 40%. CILIP’s goal for 2020 is to put library and information skills at the heart of a democratic, equal and prosperous society.  [Nick Poole]

Data mashup in higher education

Jisc’s Siobhan Burke gave the delegates an overview of Analytics Lab, a joint HESA (UK Higher Education data and analysis) and Jisc business intelligence research and development project. She also gave an overview of Heidi Plus, the Higher Education Information Database for Institutions. It encompasses the delivery of data sets through a data explorer tool, dashboards, visualisations, training and support materials.  Data includes:

  • HESA data sets: summary data from the HESA student, staff, finance, HE-Business and Community Interactions, estates management and destination of leavers; performance indicators; student staff ratios
  • Non-HESA data sets including UCAS, National Student Survey (NSS), SCONUL Library Management Statistics, Research Excellence Framework (REF)

The Jisc Library Data Labs project is a major cross-institutional collaborative initiative that is using project management and data mashup techniques to develop proof of concept visualised dashboards using library data in conjunction with these major national datasets. Specific library datasets included locally generated library data, Journal Citation Reports and other bibliometric information and JUSP (Jisc’s Journal Usage Statistics Portal).  The project’s immediate value is in supporting robust evidence-based decision-making.  Additional opportunities for the project include: 

  • Measuring the success and impact of the library service
  • Identifying comparable institutions
  • Benchmarking libraries by size, usage levels, learning space, budgets, provision of different resource types
  • Measuring student satisfaction
  • Articulating and monitoring key performance indicators 

A compelling example was of journal big publisher deals where analysis by user type or subject could determine more detailed usage profiles, relevance, value for money and equity in resource allocation between Schools and Departments. There is also immense potential to evidence more effectively an academic library’s contribution to the overall learning and teaching experience as part of the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF.) 

A series of Library dashboards will be released in Summer 2017.



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