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Getting to Know You (and Me!): Assessment and the Archival Metrics Toolkit at Columbia University’s Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Bakkalbasi, Hayrunnisa H.; Wilk, Jocelyn K.

In the past decade, the interest in library assessment has expanded greatly- particularly
 as a method to gather evidence and context for strategic planning and decision making. As has been the case with our counterparts across the nation, assessment of the quality and effectiveness of services and collections has grown exponentially at Columbia University Libraries (CUL). While campus-wide LibQUAL+® surveys have been administered since 2003, a user-based evaluation of the RBML had never been conducted before. LibQUAL+ surveys have been useful in generating broad feedback on a wide range of library activities, but they do not adequately assess the patron needs and service delivery for special collections and archives. Recognizing this problem, we decided 
to implement a survey to gain insight into the highly specialized needs of archives and special collections users. To conduct this assessment we adapted the Researcher Questionnaire from the Archival Metrics Toolkit. Between September 1, 2011 and August 30, 2012, the Rare Book and Manuscript Library (RBML) staff distributed the paper survey to any new researcher who came to our reading room as well as to returning researchers who had not been here since the start of the survey period. The survey was distributed to 910 researchers and completed by 566, a response rate of 62%. The survey findings verified anecdotal evidence about the shortcomings of the reading areas, as well as the highly favorable way in which patrons view the staff that works with them at all levels. Results highlight the value of archives as a community outreach mechanism for the university, as well as demonstrate the university’s mission of providing a distinctive and distinguished learning environment. Our recent implementation of the web-based Aeon registration and request system will most certainly impact any future assessment initiatives undertaken by the RBML.


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Also Published In

Proceedings of the 2014 Library Assessment Conference: Building Effective, Sustainable, Practical Assessment, August 4-6, 2014, Seattle, WA
Association of Research Libraries

More About This Work

Academic Units
Libraries and Information Services
Published Here
February 26, 2016