Public accountability… How do we measure up?

Since 2012, the University Library has published an Achievement Record, which includes key indicators from each of the library’s four core strategies in the University Library Strategic Plan. The 2016 Achievement Record is now available.  Do check it out!

The Achievement Record is an important part of the University Library Assessment Program which reflects progress toward the achievement of the library’s vision, mission, and core strategies in the University Library Strategic Plan, and demonstrates the library’s commitment to evidence-based decision making. A significant element of the Assessment Program is the development of performance indicators to track progress over time and to benchmark progress against peer institutions (e.g. U15 group of Canadian research universities). Where possible, data has been analyzed in the Achievement Record benchmarking University Library results to our U15 peer group.

During the recent library unit review, one of the external reviewers commented that the Achievement Record is “leading edge” work, and the fact that we make our data available publicly through our website is a first for any Association of Research Libraries (ARL) member institution. Thanks to our Assessment Analyst (Carisa Polischuk) for her leadership and ongoing development of the University Library Assessment Program and for helping us to further evolve and improve our strategic planning and evidenced-based decision making processes.

More on library statistics

For many years and on an annual basis, the University Library has been reporting detailed library statistics to key external bodies, including the Association of Research Libraries (ARL). ARL publishes these statistics relating to collections, staffing, expenditures, and service activities for all 125 ARL member libraries.  Publication by ARL puts a wealth of data about academic libraries into the public domain and allows analysis to track library progress over time, including comparison of local dynamics with peer institutions. The U of S is also a part of a select group of 15 research-intensive Canadian universities, known as the U15 Group of Canadian Research Universities with 14 of these being ARL member libraries.  This gives a further dimension for statistical analysis.

For the first time last year and again this year, Carisa Polischuk (the library’s assessment analyst and statistical guru) has analyzed and summarized those publically available statistics for the University Library and our U15 peers for all ARL indicators, percentages and ratios, and the library investment index. This will become an annual process moving forward.

Summary reports are now posted on the University Library Assessment Web Page highlighting the University Library’s analysis of ARL Statistics for 2012-13 (released 2014) and 2013-14 (released 2015). These reports correspond to the broad purposes in the University Library Assessment Program of quality improvement (as many of the statistics are measures which are tied to the core strategies in the University Library Strategic Plan) and accountability (a means of communicating results to the University community and general public demonstrating openness and transparency). These reports also demonstrate our commitment to move beyond simply submitting annual library statistics to analyzing and using published results in order to determine trends and benchmark to our U15 peers and to inform evidence based decision making in the library.

Both of these reports were recently shared with Martha Kyrillidou, Senior Director, ARL Statistics and Service Quality Programs. Martha commended our discussion to post these reports to our website, congratulated our efforts and wanted a copy of the link in order to feature the innovative assessment work of the University Library.  Special acknowledgment goes to Carisa Polischuk for her leadership on this work.