Navigating Uncharted Waters: Creating a culture of assessment

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Russell, Roger
Roby, Mary
Ketterman, Beth
Barber, Marlena

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Aim: To make assessment a fully integrated part of operations in order produce more data driven decision-making? Methods: This poster will be a case study of integrating assessment and analysis of data into operational decision making at an Academic Health Sciences Library. It covers roughly the last five years and will illuminate multiple types of assessments conducted, types of data collected, and the inclusion of assessment as part of operations in nearly every area of the library. Results: Nearly all operational decisions at the library now include some assessment or analysis of data. This data is documented evidence of both our good stewardship of funding and resources, and our commitment to good decision making for the benefit of our users. Discussion/Conclusion: East Carolina University’s Laupus Library was experiencing a shift in user needs, away from physical books and journals, and making justification of our physical space a priority. The planning and construction of a large student center next door to the library, with a gym, food options, and study space was a wake-up call that we needed to establish clear plans for assuring that our user needs were being met. We also needed to integrate data and evidence into decision making. Many decisions were at the time being made by department heads or committees of librarians who often assumed they knew what users wanted and needed. Conducting assessments showed us that what librarians think users want and what users actually want are often not the same. Our culture change began with establishing a User Experiences Committee and expanded to collecting more granular gate count data, mining collection use data from our catalog, collecting ID card swipe data, conducting Student Advisory Group meetings, and observational surveys to determine space use patterns among users. Establishing a culture of assessment and decision making driven by evidence and not assumptions or gut feelings is not easy, but the results are better and less risky operational decision making in nearly every area of the library from the website to hours of operation.