Developing an Academic Library Assessment Plan: A Case Study

Smith, G. A., Tryon, H. D., & Snyder, L. B. (2015). Developing an academic library assessment plan: A case study. Performance Measurement and Metrics, 16, 48–61. doi:10.1108/PMM-12-2014-0045


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to analyze the process of developing an academic library assessment plan and its relation to the furtherance of a culture of assessment.

Design/methodology/approach: Qualitative study of a university library's assessment planning process; findings based on documentary evidence as well as an employee survey; analysis framed in relationship to relevant literature.

Findings: Planning for the future of assessment offered the Jerry Falwell Library a significant opportunity for organizational change. Evaluations of the planning process were mixed, but generally revealed evidence of conditions associated with the development of a culture of assessment. Participants saw planning as the product of both external and internal factors. The plan's orientation toward value and impact, though clearly understood, was not universally appreciated. Implementation of the plan remains a substantial challenge.

Research limitations/implications: Reliability is subject to the limitations inherent to qualitative methods. Single case study design limits generalizability to different contexts.

Practical implications: The goal of developing a culture of assessment is not to be achieved easily or quickly. Library employees may be most inclined to support an assessment agenda when it is driven by internal factors such as quality improvement and the pursuit of efficiency and effectiveness.

Originality/value: The study emphasizes the process of developing an assessment plan at a university with a strong teaching mission. Additionally, it provides insight into the relationship between assessment planning and a culture of assessment.

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