12 · SPEC Kit 303
sessment endeavors. All respondents have gath-
ered statistics, presumably at least ARL statistics,
but every one of the methods listed in the survey
has been used by at least one of the respondents
at some point, either currently or in the past. The
top five assessment methods currently being used
are statistics gathering, a suggestion box, Web us-
ability testing, user interface usability, and surveys
that were developed outside the library. Locally de-
signed user satisfaction surveys used to be widely
used. Now, 20 of the 31 libraries (65%) that previ-
ously used this method have switched to surveys
developed elsewhere, such as LibQUAL+®. The
five least used methods are secret shopper stud-
ies, the Balanced Scorecard, wayfinding studies,
worklife/organizational climate studies, and unit
cost analysis.
The areas of the library being assessed are as
varied as the methods used. In the last five years,
every function of the library listed in the survey has
been assessed by at least one respondent. Almost
every respondent has assessed the library’s Web
site, most frequently with a usability study. Other
widely assessed areas include electronic resources,
usually assessed by statistics collection and analy-
sis user instruction, evaluated through statistics
and surveys and reference and collections, both
most frequently assessed through statistics collec-
tion and analysis. Administrative functions, in-
cluding human resources, financial services, mar-
keting, and development, that are not centered on
users are least evaluated 30% of the respondents
have not assessed even one of these areas.
Organization of Assessment Activities
Respondents were asked to identify where assess-
ment responsibility fits into their organizational
structure. Forty-nine respondents reported that re-
sponsibility for assessment activities rests on either
a single full- or part-time individual (24 or 34%),
an ad-hoc or standing committee (16 or 23%), or
a formal department (9 or 13%). All but one of the
full- and part-time assessment coordinators and
department heads is within two reporting levels of
the library director. The remaining 21 respondents
(30%) described another organizational structure.
The majority of these (15 or 71%) are decentral-
ized, with various units doing their own assess-
ments as needed. For large-scale projects such as
LibQUAL+®, an ad-hoc team or committee may be
formed. The remaining respondents either use a
combination of coordinators and committees or are
in the process of creating a new coordinator posi-
Though respondents indicated that assessment
activities have been performed in their libraries
over the last 20+ years, the presence of staff who
have primary responsibility for assessment activi-
ties has a much more recent history. All but one of
the part-time and two of the full-time coordina-
tor positions were created between 2002 and 2007
all of the assessment departments were created in
2000 or later. Nearly 60% of these positions and de-
partments were created between 2005 and 2007. All
four ad-hoc committees were created between 2002
and 2007. Standing committees or teams have the
longest history of primary assessment responsibili-
ty (one since 1984), but the most recent was created
in 2007. Departments average 2.4 FTE committees
average six to seven members.
At nearly all of the responding libraries, regard-
less of organizational structure, assessment staff
analyze, interpret, and report on data collected in
assessment activities and consult with staff on as-
sessment methods and needs. They frequently per-
form assessment activities and coordinate the col-
lection and reporting of data. They train staff at just
over half of the libraries. They only approve assess-
ment projects at 25% of the responding libraries.
Full- and part-time coordinators and assessment
department staff are very similar in the tasks they
perform, although part-time coordinators are less
likely to be responsible for training staff or moni-
toring projects. Standing committees are less likely
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