Who is Judging Library Value?

Our readers may be familiar with the Princeton Review’s College Rankings. Each year, the Princeton Review asks students to respond to a survey in which they are asked about:

  1. their school’s academics/administration,
  2. life at their college,
  3. their fellow students, and
  4. themselves.

Students respond on a five-point Likert scale. The most recent Princeton Review ranks colleges in 62 different categories. Their yearly publication is one of the main sources of all those rankings you see in newspapers and online: most beautiful campuses, best campus food, and of course “Party Schools” versus “Stone-Cold Sober Schools.”

One of the questions asked in The Princeton Review survey is: “How do you rate your school’s library facilities?” and in the results, schools are ranked from “Best College Library” to “This is a Library?” These rankings don’t take into account services, collections, or any other metrics that libraries may use for assessment, but are based solely on student responses. The list of the top 20 rated college libraries and the 20 lowest ranked libraries will be published in The Best 377 Colleges, 2013 Edition, in both print and ebook formats. You can read more about the library results in Library Journal.

This is just one example of people (students, in this case) judging library value. Do we know what their criteria might be? Are we communicating our value and quality in ways that are accessible to the community? If we want our message about library value to come out as loud and clear as the Princeton Review Rankings, we have our work cut out for us!

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