The Library Index BIX is a nationwide benchmarking project for public and academic libraries. BIX measures the performance of libraries and allows the evaluation of library services.
The goal of BIX is to effectively describe the performance of libraries with statistical data, and thus to assist evidence-based communication between libraries, their funders and policymakers through transparency of services and to enable libraries to assess their strengths and weaknesses and indicate opportunities for quality improvements.
BIX was initiated in 1999 by the Bertelsmann Foundation and the German Library Association. Since 2005, BIX is run by the German Library Association and the North Rhine-Westphalian Library Service Center within the Expertise Network for Libraries.
BIX shows the position of each participating library in relation to all other libraries of its peer group in Germany. This is achieved by integrating the data of all 2.000 public and 240 academic libraries into the calculation, while only publishing the data of participants.
It is a basic principle of BIX that libraries participate on a voluntary basis. Each library is free to decide whether it wants its data published in BIX.
Methodology and set of indicators are being continually monitored and revised, supported by an advisory board consisting of members of public and academic libraries and experts.
BIX is also a testbed for new methods and developments. Experts from Stuttgart Media University have developed a method to measure virtual visits on library websites with a COUNTER-compatible centralized system.
BIX consists of 17 indicators for academic and 18 indicators for public libraries. They are divided into four dimensions: services, usage, efficiency and development. BIX-results show the situation of each library in each of the four dimensions: it is situated either in the top, middle or lower third of all libraries in Germany. The results are represented by a colour code and aggregated to a "star"-system, four stars being the maximum result.
The results of BIX are published every year in July on the BIX-Website and in the BIX-Magazine. The BIX-magazine contains a printed version of all results and promotes libraries via interviews with people of public interest, best-practice examples and articles on current library-related themes.
BIX is one of the longest-running benchmarking-systems for libraries and has been presented at conferences in Europe, Asia, Canada and the USA.
Libraries outside Germany can take part in BIX if they accept German as project language and if it is useful for them to be measured against the field of German libraries.