INLS 782: Library Assessment

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"If you don't like change, you're going to like irrelevance even less."

-- General Eric Shinseki, former U.S. Army Chief of Staff

Course description

PLEASE NOTE: This syllabus is under development. This course will be offered in Fall 2010, and I will probably be tweaking the syllabus right up to the last minute. Return to this page often for the latest.

Research and evaluation are not the same thing: research is what you do to make evaluation possible; evaluation is one possible use for research findings.

This course will be composed of the following Units:

  1. Introduction to evaluation, broadly construed, and approaches to evaluation that are common in libraries
  2. Overview of library operations and services, and how those are evaluated
  3. The user perspective

Course objectives

Students will:

  • Develop the ability to identify library functions and services that must be assessed.
  • Develop the ability to plan, design, and implement an assessment program in a library.
  • Gain skill in analyzing and interpreting the data from an assessment, and in presenting that data for diverse audiences.


Jeffrey Pomerantz
Associate Professor
School of Information and Library Science
Office: 306 Manning Hall
Office hours: Tu/Th 11-12:30
Phone: 962-8064
Twitter: @jpom

Textbook & reading

This course has one textbook: Matthews, J. R. (2007). Library assessment in higher education. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited.

This book is available in the Student Stores, as well as from the online bookseller of your choice.

Additional reading

Other good books on evaluation generally and evaluation in libraries specifically include:

Baker, S. L., & Lancaster, F. W. (1991). The Measurement and Evaluation of Library Services. Arlington, VA: Information Resources Press.

Davidson, E. J. (2005). Evaluation Methodology Basics: The Nuts and Bolts of Sound Evaluation. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Durrance, J. C., & Fisher, K. E. (2005). How Libraries and Librarians Help: A Guide to Identifying User-centered Outcomes. Chicago: American Library Association.

Patton, M. Q. (2008). Utilization-Focused Evaluation. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.

Also the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) sponsors a biannual Library Assessment Conference. Conveniently, this conference will be taking place right in the middle of this semester, on 25–27 October 2010, in Baltimore. You should go.

I've also aggregated a bunch of library assessment-related RSS feeds: stay tuned


Develop an Assessment Project

Develop a Library Assessment Plan

Grading rubric & other policies

See my course grading rubric.

See my course policies.


Unit 1: Evaluation

Intro to evaluation

What functions does a library perform, that need to be evaluated?


Bertot et al, Statistics and Performance Measures for Public Library Networked Services

Unit n: Cost-benefit & Cost-effectiveness

Hal R. Varian, Buying, Renting and Sharing Information Goods

Unit n: Library operations

Technical services

Collection development




Unit n: Users

User needs assessment Guest speakers: Diane Harvey, Emily Daly

Foster & Gibbons, Studying Students

80/20 Rule

LibQUAL+ & all the little QUALs

computational thinking

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