13 SPEC Kit 352: Collection Assessment
The SPEC Survey on Collection Assessment was designed by Karen R. Harker, Collection Assessment
Librarian, and Janette Klein, Interdisciplinary Information Science PhD student, at the University of North
Texas. These results are based on responses from 71 of the 124 ARL member libraries (57%) by the deadline
of June 7, 2016. The survey’s introductory text and questions are reproduced below, followed by the
response data and selected comments from the respondents.
The center of any current library (physical, virtual, or hybrid) is its collection. There have been notable
changes in collection development, management, format, distribution, organization, and accessibility of
research collections, but the collection remains at the center of librarianship. The distinct trend lines are
towards digital, open, and collaborative (print and digital) collections. Because of these trends and the
predictions of radical transformation of library collections (e.g., reduced physical collections, on-demand
purchasing, just-in-time collection building, etc.), collection evaluation, analysis, and assessment will be
needed to manage these activities that are much more complex than traditional selection.
The purpose of this survey is to determine whether the available methods, data, and tools are
aligned with the purposes for assessing collections. It looks at which collection assessment methods,
measures, and practices are currently employed, how the results are used, and how well assessment
questions are answered. The results of this survey could help librarians who are involved in collection
development and management, overall library assessment, and administration at research libraries to
develop plans to evaluate their collections using established methods.
1. Does your library gather any collections-related data beyond what is required by the annual ARL
and IPEDS statistics surveys? N=71
Yes, regularly 41 58%
Yes, on a project basis 28 39%
No 2 3%
Survey Questions and
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