Librarians 'inflate issues'

<p>Librarians are manipulating their issuing numbers to meet statistical targets, according to a candid debate on libraries online forum Lis-&#8232;Pub-Libs.</p><p>Contributors to the online debate have volunteered inform-ation on various practices allegedly being used by library staff to inflate their statistics. These include staff issuing and discharging the same book to themselves several times each day; long-lapsed borrowers being counted as active; staff estimating the number of reference books referred to in a day by public or staff, and counting these as book &quot;issues&quot;; leaflets being sent out to attract lapsed borrowers back to the library, with each leaflet counted as an &quot;issue&quot;; staff generating &quot;issues&quot; as part of a stock check; and staff simply inflating figures by &quot;topping up&quot; the issue numbers each day.</p><p>Other contributors rebutted the claims, with one writing: &quot;I regularly meet with colleagues in at least nine authorities, and the suggestion that most or even many library managers are running about cooking the books because they are incompetent is not a picture I recognise.&quot;</p><p>Many on the forum have criticised the emphasis on CIPFA&nbsp; (Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy) statistics as the measure of a library service&#39;s success. One wrote: &quot;Loans are an appalling way of measuring service quality. They tell you little of what libraries are achieving within a com-munity and lead to a juvenile league table syndrome.&quot;</p><p>Library consultant Frances Hendrix said the massaging of library statistic resulted from a &quot;bean-counting&quot; culture. &quot;Libraries have been driven to this as stats are everything. As others have said, we need more qualitative and sensible ways of evaluating the wide role public libraries play in.&quot;</p><p>An MLA spokesman commented: &quot;Any notion that librarians are a breed of people who spend their time fiddling figures appears to be unsubstantiated codswallop.&quot;<br /></p>