The April 2022 e-Forum “Assessment in Libraries: Planning and Practices”, co-hosted by Anita Hall (University of Louisville), Julene Jones (University of Kentucky), and Lee Ann Lannom (Vanderbilt University), centered around library assessment.
The lively and supportive discussion among over 40 assessment librarians at primarily academic libraries included several participants who were new to their assessment role, with others having more experience. All participants’ assessment work was done either in a single-person library assessment unit or as part of a longer list of their responsibilities. Some participants mentioned having a library assessment committee to support their work.
Many library assessment projects were happening at the time of this e-Forum, including diversity audits of collections, as well as e-collection assessments or collaborative collection development using OCLC Green Glass, assessment of various library services, ongoing strategic planning or accreditation preparation, studies of website usability, library spaces, EZproxy error logs, service gaps, and social media statistics and planning for internal and external assessment data dashboards. One participant mentioned involving library users in planning assessment activities by involving student or faculty advisory boards.
Future assessment projects that participants intend to undertake focused assessing the experiences of specific user populations and were inspired by Duke University Library’s recent work. Many participants mentioned that they were looking for assistance with specific types of assessment, or assessing areas such as library satisfaction surveys, library employee morale surveys, the impact of libraries on student success, accreditation narratives, information literacy or collections assessment, data analysis or visualization software and standardizing the assessment of specific library services more effectively. One mentioned wanting to assess how users envisioned library services post-COVID.
Library assessment plans were discussed and shared, with many describing their outcomes or measures as being tied to library or university strategic goals or to the ACRL Standards for Libraries in Higher Ed.
Broader institutional assessment units support library data collection or assessment analysis, assessment best practices, and provide advice on timing of library surveys to avoid conflict with campus surveys. One institution has hired “partnering consultants” who have successfully liaised between their institutional assessment unit and individual college assessment units.
Barriers to assessment work included a mixture of institutional or library attitudes towards assessment, some supportive and others hostile or defensive. Time, staffing capacity, lack of coordination, and siloed information also present barriers in some libraries.
Data analysis and/or visualization software for assessment data included LibInsight, Microsoft PowerBI, Excel, Tableau (if there is support from an institution for licenses), Alma Analytics, and BlueCloud Analytics. One participant mentioned experimenting with analyzing qualitative survey data by using dedoose, taguette, and maxQDA.
Assessment results have been shared within the participants libraries through presentations or reports to internal or external stakeholders, as appropriate. Any resulting changes made to library programming or services based on assessment results are documented in that institution’s library assessment plan as a way to “close the loop”.
Several resources and sources of assessment training were suggested (listed in the resources below).
In order to continue this highly supportive conversation, one co-host created a Library Assessment listserv. To subscribe email LISTSERV@lsv.uky.edu with the message “SUBSCRIBE LibraryAssess”.
Project Outcome (https://www.projectoutcome.org) is a free resource offering resources for public libraries and separately for academic libraries.
LibLearnX 2022 session “Practical Tools for Implementing a Collection Diversity Audit”.
OCLC’s GreenGlass: https://www.oclc.org/en/greenglass.html
YouTube for videos on specific library assessment topics, software or data analysis
SAAL free MOOC: Applying and Leading Assessment in Student Affairs, at http://studentaffairsassessment.org/online-open-course
The Core Library Assessment Repository which includes an assessment fundamentals guide and resources and a repository to contribute assessment plans and reports.
One participant shared that they have found library assessment consulting services helpful for learning about current assessment practices.
–Anita Hall, Julene Jones, and Lee Ann Lannom, e-Forum moderators
Core e-Forums are two-day, moderated, electronic discussion forums that provide an opportunity for librarians and library professionals to discuss matters of interest on an email discussion list. These discussions are free of charge and available to anyone who wishes to subscribe to the email list.