September 22, 2010
Outcomes-Based Approaches to Articulating Library Value to External Audiences
The primary objective of ACRL's The Value of Academic Libraries: A Comprehensive Research Review and Report (September 2010) "is to provide academic librarians and institutional leaders with a clearer understanding of what research about the performance of academic libraries already exists and where gaps in this research occur. The report additionally identifies the most promising best practices and measures correlated to performance and represents a starting point to assist college, university and community college librarians in gathering evidence to tell the story of their libraries and promote dialogue on the value of the academic library in higher education." [Press Release] Report author Megan Oakleaf of the iSchool at Syracuse University and ACRL President Lisa Hinchliffe discuss the Report in a podcast available from this web page.
From the Executive Summary:
This report is intended to describe the current state of the research on community college, college, and university library value and suggest focus areas for future research. The report emphasizes library value within the context of overarching institutions. ... [T]his report includes significant research from other library types: school, public, and special (e.g., corporate, medical, law) libraries. The literature of school, public, and special libraries offers examples of numerous library value approaches and lessons learned from each. Academic libraries in universities, colleges, and community colleges would do well to learn from those experiences. Furthermore, because this report is focused on the articulation of library value to external audiences, this report does not emphasize measures of internal library processes such as input and output measures, external perceptions of quality, and satisfaction with library services. Internal, service quality, and satisfaction measures are of great utility to librarians who seek to manage library services and resources, but they may not resonate with institutional leaders as well as outcomes-based approaches.
The Report's Special Libraries Section. "Special libraries have found that they must demonstrate their value in terms meaningful to organizational management." Law librarians may find the Report's Special Libraries Section (pp 84-93) interesting. It provides a review of the literature on working with managers, economic and impact studies, and reporting results that communicate library value within the context of the institution's mission and outcomes.
Hat tip to Digital Koans. [JH]