Demonstrating Value Through Assessment and Surveys

At last month’s ACRL conference, there were more than 50 sessions that focused on assessment and/or the value of academic libraries.  While it was not possible to attend all the presentations, there were a number of poster sessions that provided examples of how libraries are gathering information to present on their value.  I focused on several of the poster sessions that had been publicized as focusing on value in the ACRL conference program.

One poster, “Demonstrating the Value of Academic Libraries with the MISO Survey” presented information on data collected from over 80,000 respondents between 2005 and 2012.  The survey has just completed its eighth year.  In terms of full disclosure, our institution participated in this survey for the first time this spring.   The presenters for this poster session were from a variety of  institutions including Bryn Mawr, Earlham College, Lafayette College, Spring Hll College, University of Richmond, and Brandeis University. MISO stands for “Measuring Information Services Outcomes” and the web-based survey instrument includes questions that measure use for both library and IT services.  The survey instrument collects feedback from faculty, staff, and students on services to measure the frequency of use, what services are considered most important, as well as measuring satisfaction by the respondents.   By evaluating those services that are frequently used as well as those that are not, as mentioned in their poster, the survey can be used both for improving services and for strategic planning.  With high response rates from faculty and students, libraries can assess those services that are both high in use and high in satisfaction as well as those services that are less frequently used and/or have low satisfaction.  For libraries looking to find information on what services are of the most value to faculty, it will provide a measurement of those services that faculty value highly and also use frequently.  With the data, libraries should be able to craft messages on high use/high value services in terms of demonstrating their overall contribution to the institution as well as the value of their support for faculty.  Two of the questions addressed by the survey are:

  • What services and resources are important to our constituents, and how successfully do our organizations deliver them?

  • How effectively do we communicate with our campus constituencies about our services and resources?

As a means of making improvements, the results should be able to provide data to show that changes may need to be made if  there are services that the librarians value highly, but faculty or students aren’t using.  This is where improvements in communication could provide an increase in underutilized services.

An additional feature of the survey is that MISO allows participating institutions to collect data on their campus and compare their results with the peer institutions who participate in the annual survey.  It is not the same group of institutions every year.  However, as a tool it not only measures satisfaction, but also can help identify trends.  You can see a copy of the poster presented at ACRL at


More details about the MISO survey will be found at the general information page for ACRL –


There were a number of excellent posters and sessions on work being done by libraries to both use the Value report and to collect data to help demonstrate value.  Other posters will be featured in future blog postings.


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