As a way to increase involvement and sharing, the members who attended the last meeting of the informally-named North Texas Library Assessment group agreed to hold semi-annual meetings. In addition, we agreed to explore making our group a little more formal, with more efficient ways of communicating and exchanging ideas. Towards that end, a planning committee of 5 volunteers started the ball rolling. The Summer 2013 meeting was the outcome of our efforts.
First let me introduce the planning committee to those who have been interested but have not yet attended a meeting:
- Danelle Toups, Assistant Library Director, Trinity River Campus of Tarrant County College (and host of our Summer meeting, thank you)
- Diane Wahl, User Experience Librarian, University of North Texas, founding member
- Karen Harker, Collection Assessment Librarian, University of North Texas
- Kay Chapa, Assessment Librarian, UT Southwestern Medical Center Library, founding member
- Tiffany LeMaistre, Electronic Resources and Collection Management Librarian, UT Tyler
This committee decided on and set up modes of communication (this blog/Web site and a Listserv), made recommendations on organization of the group, and planned the summer meeting. With this Web site, members will be able to share ideas, information, data, presentations, articles, Web sites, etc. The Listserv will provide a way to discuss amongst ourselves issues related to library assessment.
The committee made these recommendations for organization:
- Mission statement: The mission of NTLA is to provide a venue for communication and collaboration for library professionals interested in assessment.
- Membership: Open to all people who have an interest in assessing the value of libraries on their community. Membership is based on subscribing to the Listserv.
- Volunteer Steering Committee of 5 people who serve staggered 2-year terms; should include a mix of universities and community colleges.
- Duties include coordinating ongoing communication of organization and planning two annual meetings.
- Committee roles: chair, Website, Listserv, meeting host(s)
Those who attended the meeting, hosted by Dannelle at Trinity River campus, agreed with these recommendations. Richard Wayne, of UT Southwestern Medical Library, suggested that we amend the mission to: The mission of NTLA is to provide a venue for communication and collaboration for library professionals interested in assessment and demonstrating library value. By January, 2014, two or three current members will rotate off, so we encouraged attendees to consider volunteering.
Karen Harker then discussed an idea that was initiated by Beth Avery, Collection Development Librarian at UNT Libraries. This was to start a new online, open-access journal specifically on library assessment. Initially, this would be focused on the south-central region of the United States (the 5-state region). The purpose is to provide a venue for peer-reviewed publication for librarians at all types of libraries to share their research and practical applications of assessment in libraries. The attached presentation provides more details, but here is a summary:
- Working title, TONAL or TALON (acronym of the 5 states names)
- Regional focus
- 2 types of articles: research and practical applications.
- Traditional peer review for research articles; open peer review for practical articles.
- Online only, open-access hosted by UNT Digital Libraries
- Articles released continuously
The attendees were generally interested in this idea, although there were some concerns about the regional focus (would we get enough submissions?) and the title (TALON was the name of a medical libraries consortium in the 1980’s). There was agreement on the open peer review and releasing the articles continuously.
Several members shared their ideas or projects, as suggested in the meeting invitation. Brenda Robertson from UNT Dallas library presenting nice charts of data on the usage of their reference services and study rooms. In her presentation, she used photos to illustrate the noise problems associated with the central location of the library. Margo Duncan from UT Tyler described her attempts to mine the EZ proxy logs using Analog, a program that parses server logs. She would like to use these logs to assess the effects of their newly-implemented discovery system on the usage of their databases. Richard Wayne from UT Southwestern discussed a method organizing and tracking strategic plan objectives using SharePoint. He described how this system has forced the staff to think about their projects and the impacts that they have on library value. Diane Wahl, from UNT Libraries, described her efforts to determine causes of dissatisfaction with library services and resources among members of one particular college through face-to-face interviews. She presented comments from these members that were particularly striking, particularly regarding the lack of time students, particularly non-traditional students have to do their research.
There were two planned presentations, both on statistics and data. Karen Harker, from UNT Libraries, described some “best practices of statistics”. Some of these were reviews of basics, such as understanding your variables and the type of data you are collecting. Other points were related to analysis, such as transforming data. This tool allows you to use data that may not be normally-distributed (which would limit the methods you could use draw conclusions). The purpose of the presentation was to reinforce the basics and introduce options and ideas for more advanced analysis.
Zoltan Szentkiralyi, statistician by training at SMU Libraries, described some innovative ways of thinking about the data you want to collect and how to collect it. He used his project of space use study of the main library during the overnight hours as a case study. His data entry form was developed to make collection easy on the security staff to record head-counts by location. He also showed some charts using this data that clearly demonstrated the trends in space usage over the course of the semester.
After all of our discussions on assessment, Diane Wahl ended our meeting with a discussion about a new type of “resource” libraries have been facilitating – the human kind. She described the UNT Libraries’ participation in a Human Library event. This is where volunteers who had been marginalized and/or persecuted in societies, served as “books” to tell their story or answer questions from “readers”. The attendees showed an interest in such an activity, and agreed to consider organizing a mass Human Library event next year.
The next meeting will occur in mid-winter (December 2013 or January 2014). Details of host location and specific dates will be posted on this site and in the Listserv. Feel free to tell your peers and colleagues about this group and our work.