UoL Library Blog

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Service standards for repositories

Posted by gazjjohnson on 5 March, 2010

As we may have mentioned earlier, we’re currently undergoing preparation to go for a customer services excellence award.  Part of this process has involved looking at and reviewing the service standards that the library aspires to.  I’ve been fairly impressed with these, given the short turn around time we give ourselves to respond to enquiries and the close to 100% efficacy with which the various sections hit them.

As part of my role as DS&R manager I’ve been asked to consider appropriate and measurable standards for the repository and copyright/coursepacks part of our operation.  The repository I think is a particularly interesting area to try and apply standards to – given that any single deposit or request could take anything from 5 minutes to 5 months to take to resolution.  Wanting to start the ball rolling, I turned to my UKCoRR counterparts around the country and posed the question:

What service standards do you operate to and how are they measured?

A sampling of the (annoymised) answers included (paraphrased for space):

“Efforts were made to establish an “average” time from receipt to ingest, but this was thought to be too long and so senior management decided on a two week turn around period.  As a result we can’t meet these with current staffing and deposit levels.”

“We’ve been asked but have shied away from this, for exactly the same sort of reasoning as you suggest.  If pressed our argument will be towards a more resilient metric (e.g. measuring upper and lower quartiles) rather than a single arbitrary figure or “average” item turnaround.”

“We don’t have a standard as such, but we try and turn around items in two weeks – and advertise that on our submissions form.  Most items can be turned around in one to two days, but we left ourselves lee-way.  That said this year this has lengthened to a month at times, due to staffing issues.”

“We have a 24hr turnaround to respond to ejournal enquiries, and hope to apply the same to repository enquiries.  For throughput though we expect to aim for a 2-3 day period to review a deposit, assuming I get the staff I need to make such a thing possible.”

My thanks to my repository colleagues for supplying this information.  Knowing the volume of output and potential ingest here at Leicester (best guess 20-25% of all papers are coming to the LRA already), I doubt I’d be able to set such aspirational turnaround times for some months.  But in terms of enquiry response, that seems more realistic. 

A bigger issue for me is the time it takes to monitor the metrics by the team, personally I’d rather they spent the time sorting out ingest and rights issues than tracking the speed of their work’s progress.  We already monitor a lot of stats relating to input, output and queries I think I might dig into that and see if there’s something we’re already recording that could be adapted.  And that also has some relevance to our customer base – the academic researchers of Leicester.

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