So what?

Posted On Jan 13 2009 by

Mr. Banks from Mary PoppinsWhether or not I had young children, I think my favorite movie line would still be from Mary Poppins, where the father, George Banks says to his wife, “Winnifred, please!  Kindly do not cloud the issue with facts.”

I’ve been thinking lately about “business intelligence”–the other “BI” that isn’t Bibliographic Instruction (if I start blogging about Bibliographic Instruction, please shoot me).  My simplistic version of this is how do libraries turn simple reports in actual business intelligence?  From a technical standpoint, I have one answer–include more network effect into the data, e.g. how many libraries have this book? or how much budget does this other peer library have in their physical sciences budget?  But from a philosophical standpoint, this is much harder.  I call it the “so what” question.
Vendor:  So, you’re ERM will tell you which titles you can transmit via ILL and what your pay per use is based on those integrated COUNTER statistics.
Librarian (to vendor): cool.
Librarian (to library): so what?
Maybe I won’t cancel that serial title ever.  Maybe that publisher will never change its mind about resource sharing.  Are we clouding the issue with facts?
A report is just a report.  Doing something with it makes it business intelligence.  When you gather all the information, so what?  Or, to drop another movie quote I love, I will use Sean Connery from The Untouchables.  Delivered with a dying breath, “What are you prepared to do?”

Last Updated on: January 19th, 2024 at 12:22 am, by Andrew K. Pace

Written by Andrew K. Pace

One response to “So what?

  1. One of the Major problems that libraries have in exploiting business intelligence is assessing the value of a resource to the institution. Cost is easy to measure, and although usage is trickier, generally you can get a good idea from usage stats. However, value is something else. Perhaps a single usage of the resource contributed to a major piece of research, or a successful multi-million research grant proposal. I think this is one of the reasons the ‘facts’ cloud the issue – we have some hard facts, but a lot of anecdotal evidence? And weighing these against each other is hard.