14 · Survey Results: Executive Summary
general collection usage. Of the 61 respondents who
answered the evaluation section, 20 do not evaluate
student use of materials. Eighteen respondents rely
on anecdotal feedback, and fourteen use surveys. A
few respondents use circulation statistics for their
collections, track how many registered patrons are
students, or review the number of citations of special
collections materials in student papers. In general,
comments on this section reflect a desire for methods
that go beyond use counts to help assess curricular
outreach outcomes more effectively.
About a third of the respondents commented on
the ways in which they are including unique materi-
als in student research projects—working with fac-
ulty to hold classes in special collection spaces, craft-
ing class assignments that utilize primary sources,
involving subject librarians and teaching faculty, col-
laborating with faculty on assignment design, select-
ing materials for student use, and creating a special
student exhibit curator opportunity. One respondent
outlined a program assigning honors freshman an
original document, rare book, or piece of artwork for
a semester-long research project. The success of this
initiative “has led to discussions of the creation of an
Undergraduate Research Center to be based in the
While everyone embraces the concept of curricular
outreach, a few recurring problems surfaced in the
comments. The demand for instruction is growing,
while the staff is shrinking. The lack of a single per-
son designated as coordinator can impede progress
in developing a program. Staff members are dealing
with multiple priorities one respondent observed that
although one-on-one contact seems to be the most
effective way of reaching faculty and students, it is
also the most time-consuming. The observation that
the best collaborations occur when faculty approach
special collections staff suggests that the balance be-
tween being responsive and being proactive may not
always be easy to achieve.
Faculty and Scholars/Researchers Affiliated with
the Institution
Most respondents (72 or 95%) target research faculty
and other affiliated scholars/researchers in their out-
reach efforts and do so using a variety of approaches.
Scheduling one-on-one visits within the special col-
lections/library space is the most common way to en-
gage these scholars/researchers, followed by holding
orientations in special collections and creating Web
pages with content specifically directed toward this
audience. Respondents rate these three methods as
being more effective than all other methods, includ-
ing visiting scholars/researchers in their offices or
holding orientations outside of the special collections/
library space.
The primary responsibility for conducting out-
reach to affiliated scholars/researchers is spread out
among staff. Of 72 institutions that responded, only 16
indicate that this responsibility falls primarily to one
person. For the remainder of respondents, responsibil-
ity is shared among several members within special
collections or extends beyond special collections to
staff in other library units with applicable subject
knowledge in the area of the researchers’ interests.
To promote special collections materials to faculty
and scholars/researchers, a variety of methods have
been used. In order of preference, modes of communi-
cation for reaching affiliated scholars/researchers in-
clude direct one-on-one contact, library or university
Web pages, library newsletters, press releases, campus
newspapers, and other types of physical advertise-
ment (posters, fliers, bookmarks, etc.). Interestingly,
outside of placing information about special collec-
tions materials on library/university Web pages, re-
spondents have rarely turned to other methods of
Web communication to reach affiliated scholars/re-
searchers. Fewer than ten institutions report methods
such as blogs, listservs, and social networking Web
sites as being effective methods of providing outreach
to affiliated scholars/researchers.
Evaluation of the effectiveness of outreach efforts
directed to affiliated scholars/researchers is relative-
ly limited. Of the 49 institutions responding to the
questions about evaluation, 27 report not doing any
type of evaluation. The other 22 institutions are using
methods such as tracking usage statistics, interpret-
ing anecdotal feedback from patrons, and conducting
formal surveys. Based on results of evaluations, eight
of these institutions have made changes in their prac-
tices in all cases, they have increased their efforts to
contact affiliated scholars/researchers.
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