SPEC Kit 318: Impact Measures in Research Libraries  ·  13
The SPEC survey on Impact Measures in Research Libraries was designed by Zsuzsa Koltay, Director of
Assessment and Communication, and Xin Li, Assistant University Librarian for Strategic Initiatives, Cornell
University. These results are based on data submitted by 55 of the 124 ARL member libraries (44%) by the
deadline of March 29, 2010. The survey’s introductory text and questions are reproduced below, followed by
the response data and selected comments from the respondents.
The library profession has been eager to shift from focusing primarily on inputs (such as expenditure data) and outputs (such as
number of service transactions) to finding meaningful measures of what impact their institution’s resources and activities have on
the lives of its users. In the midst of a severe financial downturn, both higher education institutions and local governments look to
evidence when making resource allocation decisions. Thus, showing the direct impact of libraries is more important than ever.
The purpose of this survey is to scan the impact assessment landscape across the ARL member libraries and to explore the topics,
methods, and results related to assessing library impact. What tools and methods do our libraries use to gauge the difference they
make for their user community? How prevalent is the use of these measures in libraries? What topics do assessment practitioners
probe via what methods and what kind of results do they get? What are the impacts of impact assessment? Have institutions that
publicize positive impact evidence seen a difference in the level of financial or political support from their parent institutions?
The structure of the survey is based loosely on the framework presented in Roswitha Poll’s and Philip Payne’s important article
entitled “Impact Measures for Libraries and Information Services” (Library
Hi Tech
24, no. 4 (2006): 547–62.)
This survey will investigate work done in the following areas:
Correlation of library use and student success in school and/or after graduation.
Correlation of library instruction activities and students’ information literacy skills
Correlation of library use and users’ research output and/or other measure of success (such as publications, grants, etc.)
Calculating the financial value of library operations
Other impact measure your institution might have investigated
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