The Private Academic Library Network Inc (PALNI) recently worked with The IDEA Center, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving student learning in higher education, to create a freely available assessment survey focused on the educational role and institutional effectiveness of the library. The results of the Assessment of Library Impact and Value survey provide insights on how best to implement improvements, allocate resources, and communicate with campus stakeholders at PALNI institutions. PALNI created the survey with the intention of making it open access, available for use, and remixing by other institutions.
Many libraries are facing reductions in areas such as staffing, budget, and resources. While there are several assessment tools already available to assess library value, they are often cost prohibitive for smaller institutions. In response to this cost issue, PALNI convened a group to create a low-cost tool to assess user needs and behaviors to help libraries develop a strategy to improve and demonstrate effectiveness, relevance, and value of libraries to home institutions.
Utilizing the “ACRL Standards for Libraries in Higher Education” principles as a starting point, the committee limited the focus of the survey to those principles of most interest to both library directors and administrative stakeholders. The committee crafted questions from the top principles identified, “Institutional Effectiveness” and “Educational Role.” PALNI contracted with IDEA to craft appropriate questions, use the correct academic language, and create the survey and reporting structure.
Administrative stakeholders were interested in assessing much of the same principles that the library directors were with the exception of “Institutional Effectiveness” which was ranked lower by the administrators. One administrator commented that they had no idea that libraries could be effective in ways other than the Educational Role. This comment encouraged the committee to include that principle to help our stakeholders become better acquainted with what libraries can and will do for their institutions.
Ten of the twenty-four PALNI libraries used the survey during the spring semester, 2019. The remaining libraries will be given the opportunity to administer the survey in the fall after which the committee will gather suggestions for improvement. IDEA will continue to report out the findings to the individual (PALNI) libraries and aggregate the responses to inform how best to use consortial resources to support the PALNI institutions.
“After administering the survey at each of our schools and seeing the results from the other PALNI participants, as well as the aggregated data for PALNI, we believe that we are on track to address our purpose of measuring our effectiveness and informing our faculty and administrators,” says task force member and Grace College Library Director Tonya Fawcett.
Under the Creative Commons license, any library, group, or interested user may adopt, adapt, and administer the survey instrument on the platform of their choice.The survey can be administered by other groups, consortia or individually through IDEA. Those libraries interested in implementing a similar project on their campus, individual or consortially, can find more information on the toolkit libguide: https://libguides.palni.edu/libraryvalue/.
The current aggregated PALNI report can be found here: https://libguides.palni.edu/ld.php?content_id=49385397
More about The IDEA Center can be found on its website – www.IDEAedu.org