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From The CriticsReviewer: David A. Nolfi, MLS (Duquesne University)
Description: This compilation of one original paper and 13 articles from the Association of Research Libraries' (ARL) bimonthly newsletter/report chronicles ARL's "new measures initiative." The authors discuss formulation of the initiative, the LibQUAL+ project to assess service quality, and the E-Metrics project to develop methods of describing and measuring electronic resource usage and expenditures.
Purpose: The purpose is to provide a brief history of ARL's efforts to establish new library assessment tools consistent with higher education's trend toward measuring outcomes, performance, and value. This book meets its goals and simultaneously introduces concepts librarians need to begin transforming library measurements from traditional collection and budget statistics to assessments of library services and their contribution to institutional mission.
Audience: Although most appropriate for academic librarians, the book outlines useful ideas for any librarian attempting to develop relevant methods of assessing library services and electronic collections. The contributors represent a cross section of research library administrators, professional association authors, and university faculty members. Their expertise as well as their familiarity with the "new measures initiative" shows clearly in this work.
Features: The book discusses new directions in performance measures in higher education and how they impact performance measures in academic libraries. The authors explain how libraries employed SERVQUAL, a business quality assessment standard, as a new measurement tooland later used it as the basis of LibQUAL+, a tool for measuring library services and facilities. New questions arise in today's library environment of proliferating electronic resources including how to address fundamental issues such as defining use, counting users, and comparing budgets. The authors discuss the ARL E-Metrics project as one potential method of evaluating the substantial investments libraries are making in electronic collections.
Assessment: This brief introduction to evaluating libraries provides many useful, relevant references to websites and printed publications. It serves as an excellent starting point for librarians who want to learn more about current trends in assessment.