About Assessment

a lightbulb surrounded by an arrow cycle

What is assessment?

Library Assessment works to connect library users and library services. Although there are many ways to assess this relationship, we work to balance quantitative and qualitative data in assessment. We report and keep track of many statistics to give value to the library, answering, for example, “how many books circulated this year?” or “how many users connected to the library’s wifi?” We reach out to our users in surveys and focus groups to see how the library is being perceived and what’s next for improvement.


a person icon with a speech bubble containing a question mark

Who does assessment?

Everyone in the library performs assessment throughout their job: whether it’s collecting or presenting usage statistics or surveying users of a new service, everyone contributes to assessing the library in a broad range of responsibilities. Library Assessment (which includes Jen-chien Yu, the Director of Library Assessment, and Belinda Bolivar, the Library Assessment Specialist) centralizes statistics and supports individual units within the library to collaborate on any assessment projects. The Library Assessment Committee meets monthly to address any overarching assessment needs and discuss annual projects. Anyone can get more involved in library assessment! If you have a specific project and are seeking financial support, you can apply for a Library Assessment Committee Grant.


Who else does assessment? Check out assessment at some of our peer institutions:

You can also read the ACRL’s Proficiencies for Assessment Librarians and Coordinators to get a broader idea of the skills and daily work of someone who does assessment.

a pencil aiming towards the center of a target

When does assessment happen?

Library assessment happens all year around: if the library is offering services, there’s assessment to be done! Academic libraries also report annual statistics to overarching organizations like IPEDS, ARL, and ACRL so that these organizations can report on libraries at a national level. You can access these statistics from those institutions’ reports:

a magnifying glass

Why assess?

Assessment allows the library to connect to its users to ensure library services are meeting their needs. Assessment calibrates aspects of the library to its mission. Examples of projects that have had impact in our institution specifically can be found on the Library Assessment Committee Grant page.

One example of a simple direct impact of Library Assessment came from the Fall Semester 2020 Library Service Satisfaction Survey. We asked undergraduate, graduate, and professional students across campus to rate and comment on eleven library services (i.e., study spaces, library consultation, e-journals) over an email survey. One goal of this project was to assess the availability and ease of use of library services during the pandemic. Comments on this survey indicated difficulties booking study space. The feedback from this assessment project inspired improvements to the online study space booking system, possibly even leading to increased study space use. This project is one example of how assessment can align library services more closely with its users.

a hand holding a pencil

How to assess?

There’s no one way to do library assessment. However, there are some resources to get you started and some general tools to help with data analysis.