With regard to library services, there is little divergence among libraries by type and very little by funding, with a few exceptions. For example, laptop lending and extended hours were mentioned more often by libraries at the lower end of the ARL Investment Index while a service orientation was mentioned more frequently by the better-funded libraries. It is not possible to draw conclusions about these differences, but they might merit some examination. Other common library services that were mentioned in the profiles include outreach to the community (44%), outreach services to students (38%), and small group workspaces (27%). Less frequently mentioned were resources available to the public (5%), services to alumni (4%), and wikis (2%). Recommendation This is perhaps the area where qualitative assessment is most needed. Measuring the effectiveness of services is difficult. LibQUAL+® has certainly helped, but additional methods of measuring the true benefit of services beyond usage statistics are needed. Branch Libraries Virtually all of the profiles discussed branch libraries, with special collections receiving the greatest attention (93%). Other branches commonly mentioned were information commons (66%), science and engineering (42%), health sciences (38%), law (30%), and art and architecture (28%). Less frequently mentioned were music/dance (23%), business (11%), and maps (9%). There is little divergence among libraries by type or by funding in this category. Recommendation Possible areas for increased measurement include the relative return on investment of branch libraries or, more generally, the distinctiveness of their value. Collections It is notable that the most common reference to collections in the profiles involves creating digital collections. This was mentioned by 96% of the libraries. A close second was preservation, mentioned by 85%. Digitizing was mentioned as a means of improving access by 88% of the libraries while 82% mentioned it as a preservation technique. There appears to be a greater emphasis on stewardship of the existing collections, either through digitization or RLI 271 30 ARL Profiles: Qualitative Descriptions of Research Libraries in the Early 21st Century ( C O N T I N U E D ) AUGUST 2010 RESEARCH LIBRARY ISSUES: A BIMONTHLY REPORT FROM ARL, CNI, AND SPARC
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