With libraries increasingly providing electronic services and products, a new technical report on methods used to evaluate their performance will prove useful in comparing the effectiveness, efficiency and quality of the networked environment to the library's mission and goals.

Published by ISO (International Organization for Standardization), ISO/TR 20983:2003, Information and documentation - Performance indicators for electronic library services, will help evaluate a library's performance about the supply, use, costs or market penetration of electronic library services.

In addition to being a useful comparative tool, the new technical report will serve to support management decisions such as reallocating resources, introducing new services, reducing or deleting existing services, as well as demonstrating the library's performance and its costs to the funders, the users, and the general public.

John Bertot, member of the ISO subcommittee that developed the new technical report, commented: "Libraries that use ISO/TR 20983 will be able to manage their electronic services and resources more effectively and efficiently, provide better customer service by knowing what services and resources customers use and with what frequency, achieve cost savings through licensing material that customers desire, and engage in continual service improvements by engaging in evaluation activities over time."

"There are likely other benefits, and more benefits will accrue over time as libraries incorporate the technical report statistics into their regular data collection and evaluation efforts."

ISO/TR 20983 provides guidance for collecting and reporting of electronic service statistics and selected service/resource statistics and definitions that have undergone extensive field-testing through a number of international studies and efforts.

The technical report will be used by all types of libraries, (e.g., academic, public, special, national, etc.) as well as library consortia, multi-type consortia, database vendors and aggregators, and publishers of electronic resources.

The new document has been issued initially as an ISO technical report (ISO/TR) due to the immediate need for guidance on performance indicators for electronic library services. A working group will monitor the developments in the measurement and evaluation of electronic library services and will propose additional indicators and modifications or adaptations to those contained in ISO/TR 20983.

ISO/TR 20983:2003 costs 116 Swiss francs and is available from ISO national member institutes (see the complete list with contact details) and from ISO Central Secretariat. The new technical report is the work of ISO technical committee ISO/TC 46, Information and documentation, subcommittee SC 8, Quality - Statistics and performance evaluation.