Dean’s Update: Assessment in Libraries

Dean’s Update: Assessment in Libraries
Jenny James Lee
February 4, 2016

[The Dean's Update is a column introducing each issue of the Libraries' monthly e-newsletter In Circulation.]

For several decades now, assessment has been a popular target in higher education, and librarians are not exempt from the draw of assessment. We manage this in a number of ways and the February issue of our newsletter nicely highlights some of the Libraries’ most current assessment activities.

Professional conferences for librarians continue to focus on such assessment themes as performance measures and metrics, evaluation of student information literacy, qualitative and quantitative methods in libraries, and evidence based practices. Several of these conferences and meetings have taken place for over 15 years, attracting hundreds of researchers and practitioners. I am excited to share that a bid recently submitted by Libraries staff resulted in an invitation for Drexel to host the International Evidence Based Library and Information Practice 9th Conference [EBLIP9] in Philadelphia in June 2017.

Professional organizations and connections are another way for librarians to collaboratively develop effective assessment techniques and one of our librarians is currently involved in Assessment in Action, a national program helping develop skills both in conducting effective assessments and in building collaborations across campus units. We also, as members of PALCI, a multi-library consortium of academic libraries, are participating in an assessment trial that offers faculty, students and staff access to streamed videos through SWANK. We are interested in evaluating use of this remote access service to popular films and understand the cost/benefits of meeting the growing interest in viewing audiovisual materials in support of curriculum.

New library positions or position reassignments are giving libraries increasing expertise within their organizations to address assessment techniques and data analysis. At Drexel, we joined this trend first by assigning these responsibilities to existing staff, but soon imagined the benefits of having a dedicated staff member conduct and coordinate assessments. Our goal was not to have an “assessment librarian,” but rather a person to complement existing gaps. A relatively new incumbent to a newly defined position of Data Analyst has already inspired broader thinking. This person began with gathering and analyzing data on expenditures and use, providing library decision makers valuable evidence to make collection selection decisions. She now heads a new library-wide program that we expect will have a systematic approach to funds allocations.

Client assessment is always welcome—and your opinions on our newsletter or particular projects raised in them are always welcome-- and can be directed to our ongoing feedback survey or directed to our staff via

Danuta A. Nitecki, PhD
Dean of Libraries