Loreen Phillips of UT Dallas discusses outreach
Jean Vik of UT Dallas discusses new data tools
2011 North Texas Library
Midwestern State University
Southern Methodist University
Texas A&M Commerce
Texas Woman’s University
University of North Texas
UNT North Texas Health Science Center
UT Southwestern Medical Center
By Sumathi Raghavan
While academic librarians spend a considerable amount of time assessing research and information issues for students and professors, they occasionally assess themselves.
Thirty-eight academic librarians from various North Texas universities attended a daylong program of presentations and discussion in the North Texas Library Assessment Meeting during December at Eugene McDermott Library.
Assessment in libraries refers to the measurement of the perceived quality, impact and effectiveness of library services, resources, personnel, and other offerings. These measurements can be quantitative (e.g., How big is the collection? How many books circulate each year? How many questions does the Reference Desk answer? How many instruction classes are offered each semester?) and qualitative (e.g., How do students respond to library instructors? How do faculty members perceive the library’s offerings?). When employed effectively assessment leads to improvement by means ranging from fine-tuning to wholesale reevaluation of existing efforts.
Two UT Dallas librarians presented this year – Loreen Phillips, Head of Information Literacy, and Jean Vik, Associate Director of Library Systems.
Phillips spoke on “Information Literacy, Instruction & Outreach: A Year of Assessment.” Her presentation first outlined the types of library instruction and outreach that comprise the Information Literacy (IL) program at McDermott Library. She went on to describe the self-evaluation conducted over the past year by the Information Literacy and Reference staff. This self-evaluation included a close study of American Library Association and Association of College and Research Library standards, followed by the three-step examination of the structure of the IL program, the performance of the instructors, and the librarians’ own perceptions about the goals of the IL program.
Vik presented “Implementing Counting Opinions.” She described how UT Dallas has added a product, “Counting Options,” to combine all of the statistical data the library records into one location. This makes it easier to mine the data. Previously each department in the library created its own spreadsheet and submitted the data separately. The new tool has streamlined data storage and eases the task of required administrative reporting.
In the fall of 2008, in order to devise and share effective assessment methods – especially in an era of smaller budgets and fewer opportunities to attend conferences – a group of 22 area librarians from 11 academic institutions met to discuss successful (and not so successful) approaches to assessment at their respective schools. Among the topics covered were: assessment activities at each library, especially information on how others implement specific assessment techniques; experiences with assessment tools and/or software; and trends and new ideas from professional meetings that not everyone was able to attend. Their goal was to “create a regional ‘culture of assessment’ via a network of assessment librarians.” The group met again in 2009 and 2010, rotating the location among the various member libraries.