Samson reported that, before a merger was proposed by the Vagelos Commission in October, a meeting was held to review the existing RU/UMDNJ libraries relationship. Among other things, it was suggested at the RU/UMD meeting that we plan an needs assessment of UMD faculty, research staff, and students to find out necessary actions or changes to the current arrangements. We believe it will still be useful regardless of the merger outcome and we should go ahead with planning such a needs assessment. The Assessment Committee can assist in designing the methodology and developing the questions to be used to conduct such an assessment. Susan pointed out that a National Library of Medicine publication on recent surveys done at a number of medical libraries could be useful in developing the method and questions and she will try to locate the publication.
NERL (the NorthEast Research Libraries consortium) endorsed a bibliomining research proposal initiated by Professor Scott Nicholson, Syracuse University School of Information Studies, to create a multi-library data warehouse consisting of item-level and transactional-level information (that contains no personally identifiable information about patrons) to inform decision-making process for NERL libraries. A NERL research committee will have oversight of all research work done as part of this project. After discussion, we agreed to serve as one of the "Gamma libraries" to assist with the research process, that is after the project has received the necessary research funding and has been through the "Alpha" (Syracuse and Yale) and "Beta" libraries (to be determined) phases.
The committee discussed and refined the role statement of the Assessment Committee. It was felt that a general statement would be more appropriate for the current rapidly changing environment. The following revised role statement was agreed upon: "The role of the Libraries Assessment Committee is to explore, identify, adopt, and apply effective measures that the Libraries can use to assess their operations and value to library users. The committee is primarily concerned with the evaluation and assessment of library services, collections, and human resources." It goes without saying that the committee members need to continue to learn and acquire tools and techniques necessary in order to accomplish what we plan to do.
One of the Libraries goals this year is "to develop quality indicators/measures for excellence that align with our mission, vision, and values." The Cabinet at its meeting of December 17th will start the process of identifying such measures. The process will be facilitated by Brent Ruben and Sherrie Tromp of the Center for Organizational Development and Leadership. Among other methods and tools, the "Balanced Scorecard" metrics used by the University of Virginia library in determining their success in all vital library areas will also be considered. The Balanced Scorecard is a management technique used by them to assess and provide a close view of the library from four perspectives: user, internal processes, financial, and future/learning potential. The Assessment Committee, among other library and university groups, will all contribute to the process of developing the quality indicators/measures to be used by Rutgers University Libraries.
In light of what is going on in the Libraries and of the forthcoming merger of universities, some committee members pointed out that it is perhaps a good time for us to seriously consider participation in the LibQual project, one of the ARL New Measures Initiatives, to generate benchmarking or baseline data in some key areas. The LibQual project is defining and measuring library service quality across institutions. The instrument used by the project has been improved and tested by a good number of libraries of different sizes. The committee members also agreed that it is equally essential for us to work with others in the Libraries to help develop a cultural of assessment here at RUL, recognizing the importance of measurement of the effectiveness and impact of our activities.
The next meeting will be held on Wednesday, January 22, 2003 at 9:30 am in the Hayer Room, Alexander Library.