The Private Academic Library Network of Indiana Inc. (PALNI) has released a number of open-access ACRL and IPEDS statistical collection videos and guides to assist OCLC’s Worldshare Management Services (WMS) users in the consortium and beyond.
All academic libraries are required to report data to the IPEDS annual survey and optionally to the ACRL survey, both necessitating significant time and data processing. Heather Loehr, the PALNI analytics Coordinator and Hanover College Duggan Library’s Coordinator of Information Services, led the project in order to create a common set of instructions that could be shared to all libraries using WMS, rather than each library developing its own guides locally. To benefit the whole OCLC community, the team included instructions for both Standard Reports–available to all WMS users–and instructions for Report Designer users.
Ms. Loehr, originally partnering with Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary Library Director Karl Stutzman and more recently with DePauw University Prevo Science Library’s Associate Dean of Libraries and Coordinator Caroline Gilson, saw the consortial need for consistent and time-saving instructions in 2015. “We wanted to develop methods that were easy to use and could be used consistently year after year. Consistency is key—the data is most valuable when we are confident that we are reporting on a common standard both internally as well as across the consortium. The methods we have developed are simplified to some degree, and surely more granular analysis could be done for greater accuracy, but we believe that the data acquired is accurate enough and the procedures are clear and accessible.”
The OCLC community of users enthusiastically embraced the work and was praised by the OCLC WorldShare Analytics Community Manager Team. “The OCLC Community Center was designed to foster the culture of support and collaboration among libraries. The IPEDS and ACRL reporting guides that our PALNI colleagues build every year and distribute through the Community Center is one of the best examples of impactful collaborations that we’ve seen. PALNI and their colleagues across various communities of practice are truly setting the pace for sharing knowledge about best practice workflows, as well as gathering and contributing ideas on how to improve products. Congratulations to PALNI on another round of important contributions to the collective’s effective use of WorldShare Reports!”
Before these instructional videos and guides were released, librarians had to interpret the survey instructions and develop their own data-gathering methods locally making it difficult to benchmark across the nation. Now, with over 70+ hours invested by Ms. Loehr’s team in gathering data, creating instructions, and designing the guides and videos, all WMS users can save time and reduce uncertainty by making use of the guides and videos. Having clear instructions that match data points to the survey questions reduces the range of interpretation, making the ACRL and IPEDS statistics more valuable when comparing across the nation.
The Customer Service Director of Counting Opinions, creators of the ACRLmetrics analytics tool that allows libraries to manage and measure ACRL and other performance data, complimented Loehr’s team, saying, “Peer benchmarking is an important component of assessment in academic libraries. Consistent methods for gathering data across institutions are vital for useful peer benchmarks. The excellent work led by Heather Loehr, Coordinator of Information Services with the Duggan Library at Hanover College and Analytics coordinator for the PALNI consortium can be used by all OCLC Worldshare Management Services (WMS) participants helping to guarantee consistent data gathering across all WMS peers. We thank her for her efforts and for the PALNI group’s sharing of this work.”
In addition to the guides, Loehr and Gilson hosted a PALNI online training session this year. Franklin College’s Library Director Denise Shorey attended the Fall session and greatly appreciated the work, “I’m very grateful to Heather Loehr for her role in creating guides for using WMS Reports. By aligning WMS options with IPEDS/ACRL requirements, the guides have been an immense time-saver. The step-by-step instructions provide clear guidance, and Heather was superbly patient in answering any lingering questions that I had.”