7 SPEC Kit 352: Collection Assessment
Type of Measure Use/User-based Collections-based
Quantitative Circulation
In-house usage
E-resource usage
Number of titles &volumes
Growth in size
Expenditures and trends
Citation analyses
Ratios (e.g., size to expenditures, print to electronic)
Qualitative Observation studies of user behaviors
Surveys of opinions
Usability testing
Focus groups
Citation analysis
Collection mapping (e.g., Conspectus)
Brief tests of collection strength
(Figure 7-1 Methods of collection analysis, p. 229)
Quantitative collections-based measures or methods are the most commonly used in collection
evaluations, with nearly three-quarters of the survey respondents having used three or four of the
methods at least once. They most frequently reported using these methods at least annually, except
for analyzing the collection’s currency, which had been done as needed, though a surprising number
(15 or 24%) indicated that they had never analyzed collection currency or age. The vast majority of the
respondents analyze collection growth and expenditures annually or even more frequently. Most analyze
the collection size by subject and/or format annually or as needed.
While the responding libraries have used qualitative measures of the collection, they are not
necessarily a regular part of collection evaluations for most respondents, nor is the use of these methods
widespread. While over three-quarters have used accreditation guidelines, and nearly two-thirds have
used peer library comparisons, global citation analysis, list-checking, or direct evaluations, nearly two-
thirds of respondents have never used the Conspectus or Brief Tests of Collection Strength methods.
Indeed, “Never used” was the most or the second most selected response for all qualitative collection-
based methods. While over half of the respondents indicated they have used four or more of the eight
methods listed, there was greater variation in the frequency of their use. Most who use these measures
applied them as needed, rather than on a regular basis. Furthermore, there was little interest in using
these measures, with fewer than a third of the respondents indicating any plans to use these methods,
primarily global citation analysis (e.g., impact factor) and comparisons of holdings with peer-libraries.
There was similarly wide variation in the use of the quantitative user-based measures for
collection evaluations, with most respondents reporting using between four and six methods. Generally,
the more traditional measures of circulation and ILL requests by user groups are used annually, as well as
usage of electronic resources (which was the most commonly reported method). Conversely, gap analysis
and MINES for Libraries® have never been used by the majority of respondents. Most of the measures are
used either annually or as needed. Unlike the other groups, nearly half of the respondents indicated plans
to use one to three of these methods. Local citation analysis was the most commonly selected method that
respondents are planning to use, followed by gap analysis and ILL requests by patron groups.
There was a greater response to the qualitative user-based methods than the other groups of
methods, with nearly 75% reporting using three or more of the methods at least once. This explains the
fewer number of respondents who indicated that they are planning to use at least one of the methods. The
two key exceptions are the comparison of syllabi to holdings and the mapping of courses to the collection,
both of which are very labor-intensive. However, a modest number of these respondents are planning
on using these methods (10 and 18, respectively). Most gather feedback from the primary stakeholders
(patrons and librarians) on some kind of regular basis, about a third reported doing so more frequently
than annually.
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