(This article was first published in Against the Grain – June 2017, v.29 #3)
by Roger Schonfeld (Director, Library and Scholarly Communication Program, Ithaka S+R)
The need for new metrics in research libraries is well established. Some have described this need as being a matter of switching our thinking away from inputs towards outcomes, or away from how much we spend to how much value we create. These are absolutely important ways of understanding why universities should invest in their libraries and a positive direction for metrics. But in parallel, academic research libraries are making a strategic pivot, from an emphasis on general collections to an emphasis on more distinctive collections, partnerships, and services. As the contributions of a library shift, so should the metrics for evaluating its success. We need to shift not only away from an undue attention to inputs, which is complicated enough, but I am kept awake wondering how we move to ways of defining and measuring success that are appropriate to our strategic directions. Here is some preliminary in-process thinking on these topics.
A blog about academic librarianship. Covers discovery, open access and other hot trends by a librarian in Singapore.
Interesting thoughts on the difference between advocacy, inherently subjective, and assessment, which should be (but isn’t always) objective. Aaron Tay discusses this within the context of his experience at the most recent Northumbria conference on library assessment. He mentions the “controversial” correlational studies of library use and student outcomes – the studies themselves are not controversial, but rather the way the results are considered. While no one believes that correlation leads to causation, some library assessment advocates consider the preponderance of such evidence supports this conclusion. Others, of course, are clearly not convinced. I am more of the latter than the former.
What I don’t understand is why we librarians are not taking the correlational studies as evidence to undertake the next step in research. If correlational studies are poor evidence, don’t just complain – do something else! This requires different methodologies – perhaps experimental. What about randomly assigning at-risk students to groups that receive extra attention with or without in-depth library instruction? My point is, let’s move on.
A team I put together at our library was lucky enough to snag a small grant from the university’s Office of Intercultural Affairs to support our work on assessing the diversity of our e-collection, a phased project. We were inspired…
I know this is very short notice, but if you have a chance to attend the 2017 Cross Timbers Library Collaborative meeting at Texas Woman’s University tomorrow, please do. Not only will there be interesting sessions, we will also attempt to have an NTLA business meeting during the lunch session. I know a number of UNT folks will miss out on the lunch to attend the presentation of a candidate for the dean’s position, but I will be there to initiate our discussion of keeping our little group going and growing.
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