Library Assessment Repository Project

Over the last several years, the American Library Association’s LLAMA (Library Leadership & Management Association) Assessment Community of Practice has been exploring community interest in a repository for library assessment resources. The repository would provide open access to survey instruments, case studies, raw data – providing the community with a single space for locating and sharing materials.

This spring I conducted a survey on behalf of LLAMA to gauge interest –  379 responses.The majority, 86.8% (n=329) of respondents were from academic libraries, and 7.7% from public.

I spent much of my ALA conference in June reporting on the survey findings, but I think they are of general interest and worth relating here as well. Particularly because some of the issues and concerns raised might apply to establishing other types of open access repositories – whether institutional or disciplinary.

The survey was short – just 11 questions. This may be a reason we received lots of comments from librarians who wanted to tell us even more!

Question: Please indicate how likely you would be to use these types of resources if they were part of a freely available online Library Assessment Repository:

By a large margin, the types of resource most likely to be used are assessment instruments (surveys, questionnaires, rubrics). Least likely to be used are raw data.  Raw data was also least likely to be deposited.

Scale Green=High; Red =Low

Question: What factors would contribute to your willingness to use these resources?

Prospective users are looking for quality resources that are relevant to their immediate research need. Out of 272 free-text comments, themes included:  quality, relevance to the work, peer-review, ease of access and free availability, robust search functionality, metadata and overall organization of the resources.

Question: How likely would you be to deposit the following types of materials?

Survey responses indicate somewhat less likelihood of deposit of assessment resources than the likelihood of use.  264 respondents would be likely or most likely to deposit assessment instruments.  This is highest ranking type of material for deposit, with case studies also ranking high for potential deposit.

Scale Green=High; Red =Low

Question: What factors would contribute to your willingness to share your resources?

Prospective contributors to the repository are also looking for ease of use and accessibility. Other themes from the 244 free-text comments: concerns that one’s own work would not be “worthy” of sharing, lack of permission from library administration or IRB (Institutional Review Board), and privacy concerns. There is fear that submitting raw data would result in misunderstanding or misusing it. How would that data be “framed” or annotated so that its analysis made sense?  Another concern:  “Why would I submit my work to a repository when that doesn’t count towards my tenure/promotion process?”

Next Steps:

What started as a great idea has taken on some “legs”, but has also turned into a complex project with high expectations. Our assessment community members would like lots of rich, quality, peer-reviewed content that meets their particular research needs for their particular library type. The repository must be easy to access and deposit must also be easy, yet resources must be described thoroughly with rich metadata to insure discoverability.

The need seems greatest for small libraries who may not have many opportunities for professional development. Librarians who are seeking support and information as they take on new responsibilities in assessment expressed a particular need for the resources and networking opportunities made available through a repository.

LLAMA Assessment is now looking at how best to more forward, particularly as it seeks partners for building technical infrastructure and soliciting deposits.  The survey confirmed the value and need for a repository of library assessment resources, but is just an impetus. Now the real work begins.

Note: To read the report: AssessmentRespositoryNeeds_SummaryReport

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