National libraries have special responsibilities for the cultural heritage of their country. A new ISO Technical Report that defines performance indicators for national libraries will help them to optimize effectiveness and efficiency in fulfilling these tasks.

  • Coverage of the national imprint (= all documents – print and electronic – published in a country)
  • Speed and comprehensiveness of the national bibliography
  • Efforts to preserve the national documentary heritage
  • International involvement of the library.

The Technical Report provides standardized terminology and definitions for data to be used in the performance indicators. Furthermore, it contains concise descriptions of the performance indicators, of the collection and the analysis of data needed, and of examples where the performance indicators have been used. It also describes what types of services or activities would benefit most from using the individual performance indicator as well as limitations to its application.

The performance indicators in this Technical Report facilitate achievement of the main objectives of national libraries:

  • Building the national collection
  • Making the collection accessible
  • Preserving the collection
  • Offering reference services
  • Building potentials for development
  • Managing efficiently.

Dr. Roswitha Poll, leader of the ISO group of experts that developed the report, comments: "National libraries play an important role in providing and ensuring permanent access to the knowledge and culture of the past and present and have special tasks and services compared to other libraries. ISO/TR 28118:2009 will help them assess and improve the performance of their public service mission. "

The Technical Report does not describe performance indicators for the collection of Internet resources, although this may be added to the next edition. However, it includes an annex giving a preliminary overview of methods and quality issues for this activity.

ISO/TR 28118:2009, Information and documentation – Performance indicators for national libraries, was developed by ISO technical committee ISO/TC 46, Information and documentation, subcommittee SC 8, Quality – Statistics and performance evaluation. It is available from ISO national member institutes (see the complete list with contact details). It may also be obtained directly from the ISO Central Secretariat, price 192 Swiss francs, through the ISO Store or by contacting the Marketing & Communication department (see right-hand column).