SPEC Kit 303: Library Assessment (December 2007)

This SPEC Kit examines the current state of library assessment to provide a starting point for those seeking to develop a library assessment program at their own institutions.

The survey was distributed to the 123 ARL member libraries in May 2007. Seventy-three libraries completed the survey for a response rate of 60%. Only one library indicated that it did not engage in any assessment activities beyond collecting annual data for the ARL statistics, though no reason was given as to why this was the case.

Survey results indicate that while a modest number of libraries in the 1980s and earlier engaged in assessment activities beyond annual ARL statistics gathering, the biggest jump in activity occurred between 1990 and 2004. The overwhelming majority of responses indicate the impetus was service driven and user centered and came from within the library itself rather than from an outside source. Respondents’ top impetus for beginning assessment activities (63 respondents or 91%) was the desire to know more about their customers. Based on responses to a question about their first assessment activities, over half began with a survey, almost all of which were user surveys.

This SPEC Kit includes documentation from respondents in the form of job descriptions, assessment mission statements, plans, reports, Web sites, and organization charts.

Wright, Stephanie, and Lynda S. White. Library Assessment. SPEC Kit 303. Washington, DC: Association of Research Libraries, December 2007.


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SPEC Kit 303: Library Assessment (December 2007)