In October 2013, Mary Jane Petrowski, ACRL Associate Director, shared a blog entitled, “ACRL Metrics: Enhancing Data-Driven Decision Making.”  In that posting, Mary Jane shared information about ACRLMetrics the online tool that is currently collecting data for the ACRL 2012-13 Academic Library Trends and Statistics Survey. Collection of data in a standard survey on an annual basis is essential for academic libraries that wish to demonstrate value to their institutions.  In their work, Viewing Library Metrics from Different Perspectives: Inputs, Outputs, and Outcomes , [1] Robert E. Dugan, Peter Hernon and Danuta A. Nitecki include in their appendices a series of tables that identify the type of metrics that can be used to track trends within your own institution as well as provide benchmarks and comparisons to peer institutions.  While this data is useful for tracking internal trends, we need the same data to be available to the larger academic library audience.  That means it is essential for academic libraries to contribute their statistics to an annual standard survey.  This need is more urgent based on the fact that the last NCES Academic Library Survey has been completed and published.  2012 is the last year that data will be collected in that form. [2]    Approximately 4,000 academic libraries including community colleges, 4 year, institutions, Master’s level and research universities participated in that biennial survey.  We need the same level of participation in the ACRL survey in order to have valid data that can be used by libraries.

The Association for Research Libraries has an established survey tool and system for collecting statistical data from their member institutions, but the ARL is limited to its 125 members.  While they provide a valuable service in providing excellent summary and trend data, it does not replace the need for detailed information from many more academic libraries including community colleges and smaller four-year institutions.

ACRL has been working to establish an online standard survey tool and system for all academic libraries to use.  ACRLMetrics [3] became available in 2010 and is an online tool that utilizes a system to collect your data and then share the contributed data in both trend reports and user-generated reports and focuses on the same suggested metrics that are presented in Viewing Library Metrics from Different Perspectives.  All library directors or someone designated in your institution should have received an email invitation with password information to access the online survey in order to submit your data on collections, staffing, services, and expenditures. The deadline for completing the survey is April 30, 2014.  Information including the worksheet and instructions will be found on the website.

If you did not receive an invitation, you can access support at https://acrl.countingopinions.com/.  You also make direct contact by sending an email to Lindsay Thompson at   llt@countingopinions.com or calling 800-521-4930.

I hope that you will see the value in contributing your statistics to the ACRL survey.  The more libraries that contribute, the greater will be the benefits for all academic libraries.  By doing so, you will help contribute to the data that we need when preparing reports demonstrating the value we provide to our institutions.

 

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[1] Robert E. Dugan, Peter Hernon, Danuta A. Nitecki. Viewing Library Metrics from Different Perspectives: Inputs, Outputs, and Outcomes. (Santa Barbara: Libraries Unlimited, 2009)

[2] A much shorter version of the NCES ALS survey will be included in IPEDs beginning in 2015.  You can review the new form on the IPEDs website.

[3] If you are not familiar with ACRLMetrics, it is a subscription service.  However, libraries that contribute their statistics do receive a subscription discount.  I am not trying to sell subscriptions to this service.  I am more concerned that we have a survey tool that accurately reflects data from more academic libraries.  If interested, you can obtain information on subscriptions at their website, but I will point out that if you contribute your data, you become eligible for a subscription at less than $200.

 

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