14 Association of Research Libraries Research Library Issues 301 2020 may not be apparent until their third year, if not later in life. As such, often when measuring student success or student interactions with the library, researchers tend to rely on quantitative metrics that, for example, focus on comparing changes in students’ GPAs to how many times students entered the library or asked for help using a chat or reference service these measurements may also be employed to articulate the library’s role in maintaining high retention or graduation rates. The methodologies for measuring outcomes via data points into forms of benchmarking are also included in what the Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL) acknowledges as being a key component and form of measurement in the Standards Structure for Libraries in Higher Education.19 The heavy reliance on numerical data points to inform assessment within our field, in turn, means we are relying on a type of traditional assessment. Traditional methods of assessment can tell us certain things. For example, at UIC’s Richard J. Daley Library, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, use of the library was in high demand as many students struggled to find seating, often sitting on the floor or on stools in between stacks, and typical gate counts estimated that at various points during the day there were anywhere between 5,600 and 7,600 students in the library. These numbers clearly indicate that we do not struggle to get patrons into the library, so outreach in that way is not a dire need. Students are also in high attendance when participating in library- sponsored finals events with numbers ranging between 200 and 400 unique visits in a single day, which demonstrates that these events, while expensive to execute, are quite reasonable expenditures given the per-person cost. These numbers and data points can help to show some areas of need and success however, there are still measurements of success or unmet needs that can’t be fully encapsulated in this form of metric alone. We may see several thousand patrons in the library each day, but this number tells us nothing about the quality of the experience we usually see high attendance at finals week programming, but we do not know by these numbers alone if we are meeting our goal of providing students an opportunity to de-stress.
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