Q & A with Brian Kall, Senior Financial Analyst
A monthly series featured in the Libraries' monthly newsletter, In Circulation, by Jenny James Lee
This month I sat down with Brian Kall, the Libraries’ senior financial analyst. Brian joined the Libraries in June 2013 coming to the Libraries from LeBow College where he worked with admissions. He also is a Drexel alum, earning an MBA in 2009.
Q: What is your role at the Libraries?
I am the Libraries’ senior financial analyst and am responsible for processing our financial transactions, tracking our budget and collecting and organizing measurable data to analyze impact on the Drexel community as well as review operational allocations. The Libraries has a surprising number of invoices to process, as we purchase so many resources throughout the year.
Q: You’re new to working in a library, what did you find most interesting about working at Drexel’s Libraries?
The Libraries is a neutral place on campus – where colleagues from across the university can come to research, reflect, collaborate or study. I think because of this, many of my colleagues are open, warm and engaging.
Q: What is the best thing about your job?
I enjoy learning new things, and in this role I seem to learn something new every day. I’ve been working a lot in Excel and have continued to learn more and more tricks on how to better present information in more engaging displays. It is rewarding to go home and say, I learned something new today!
Q: Assessment is a major topic in higher education. What are some of the challenges in collecting library data for use in assessment?
One of the major challenges is figuring out the question that your data needs to answer. If you don’t have a well articulated question, you can’t possibly know what data to collect. We also have the challenge of patron privacy, which means that we, in some cases, actively purge data.
Q: What data are you currently collecting and how do you see it telling the Libraries’ story?
A large amount of the data I collect is for use in analyzing costs and ensuring that we are getting an efficient return from our allocations. We cannot afford to waste any of our resources.
Q: Were there any surprises in the information you are collecting?
A: I don’t think I’ve been surprised, per se, as I try not to go into an analysis with any expectations. The information is what it is. But, it was fun to look at the data at both our W. W. Hagerty and Learning Terrace locations together to see that peak occupancy at Hagerty is between 12 p.m. and 6 p.m. and peak at the Terrace is at 9 p.m.. This seems to say that students tend to go to the Terrace after their last class of the day.
Q: You monitor many aspects of the Libraries budget – where does the money go?
Well, as any review of our annual report will tell you, almost 50% of our budget goes to our collections - both for physical items but mostly for licensed access to e-resources. Maintaining all of the published information needed for an academic research institution is expensive! The second half of the budget goes to staff salaries, with a small amount going toward maintenance for facilities, technologies, and other operational expenses. Some of our gift funding goes to exciting projects like the laptop lending kiosk, or the Media:Scape technologies.
Q: Not too long ago you were working toward your MBA at Drexel. What experiences did you have with the Libraries and how did they change how you view the academic library?
As an MBA student, I didn’t really have research projects. So not knowing what the demand for the library was, I didn’t know what the library could provide. Being on the inside, I’m constantly surprised at how much happens here and the fascinating resources we provide to students in business, engineering, fashion, and so much more. It is an incredible array of fields to cover, yet somehow we do it.