Assessment Plan 2009-2013


Boston University Library

Assessment Plan

FY 2009-2013

Boston University Library strives to provide the highest quality services and resources to the Boston University community. The Library recognizes the importance of listening to constituents, assessing use of key resources and services, and providing decision makers with data for planning and resource allocation. During FY 2008-2009, the Library formed an Assessment Group to explore how best to undertake library assessment given available resources. After conducting an environmental scan, implementing Google Analytics on the Library’s website, participating in the Association of Research Libraries’ (ARL) Effective, Sustainable, and Practical Assessment service, conducting a staff survey on data collection, and attending relevant conferences and workshops, the Library’s Assessment Group proposes this Assessment Plan to the Library.

With the support of Library Administration and the involvement of library staff, the Assessment Group proposes to explore the feasibility of implementing six initiatives and to carry out the initiatives deemed feasible.

Constituent Feedback Use of E-Resources Infrastructure
Surveys of faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates Counter statistics on use of electronic resources Library-wide Data Collection Survey
Google Analytics on use of Library’s website and subscription resources Data website
WorldCat Local Statistics


Constituent Feedback

Project Survey of Faculty, Graduate Students, and Undergraduates
Purpose Gather information from these groups about library services & resources
Timetable Survey instruments will be adapted and delivery modes explored during 2009 & 2010. Anticipate surveying one group each year.
Staff Involvement Review of questionnaires once drafted; publicize survey to encourage participation
Output Results of survey
Outcome Better understanding of constituent needs 

Staff will use data to improve services and resource allocation.

If the survey becomes an ongoing project, it will provide longitudinal data

Assessment Staff will be asked to assess usefulness of survey results and suggest changes for future surveys.


Use of E-Resources

Project Counter Statistics on Use of Electronic Resources
Purpose To measure the use of Counter-compliant resources in a consistent manner based on an international set of standards and protocols
Timetable Investigate parsing of IT’s MySQL database for EZproxy statistics and commercial products to collect Counter statistics, 2009+
Staff Involvement After the exploratory phase, the AG will call a staff meeting to discuss the project and ask for feedback.
Output Data on use about a subset of compliant resources
Outcomes Resource allocation decisions could be made based partially on use statistics.
Assessment Ask for staff feedback on usefulness of data


Project Google Analytics on Use of Library’s Website and Resources
Purpose Assess use of Library’s website and some resources over time
Timetable Begun in 2008; ongoing
Staff Involvement Assessment Group will continue to demonstrate the Analytics available to staff and ask for feedback on its usefulness.
Output Continually available, up-to-date Analytics
Outcome The development of the website will be partially determined by this data.
Assessment The Web Committee will provide feedback to the Assessment Group



Project Library-wide Data Collection Survey
Purpose Streamline ARL statistics and department and branch annual data collection for the Library
Timetable 2009+
Staff Involvement Staff will advise AG and identify best practices.
Output Templates 

  1. ARL statistics gathering

Recommended best practices.

Outcome Branches and departments will share statistics, know what data is expected, and have a form for submitting data.
Assessment ALC will be asked for feedback on this project.


Project Data Website
Purpose Provide staff and decision makers with a data website. The Assessment Group will identify the most important data for decision making and populate the site as statistics become available.
Timetable 2010+
Staff Involvement Staff will be asked to comment on structure and provide content.
Output Growing collection of organized data.
Outcome Staff and decision makers will be able to make some decisions based partially on data and will be able to suggest changes to improve the data layout.
Assessment Staff will be asked about the usefulness of the site for workflow and decision making.


The Assessment Group realizes the importance of integrating assessment into workflow, of involving staff in the process of assessment, and of communicating with all constituents—library staff, current and potential users, and librarians involved in assessment in the wider academic community. From the beginning the Assessment Group has consulted with Administrative Library Council on developing projects, posted minutes, reports, and relevant materials on an open wiki, and coordinated an Assessment Community of Interest through the Boston Library Consortium (BLC). The Assessment Group will continue to engage with relevant groups. The Assessment Group will rely on the Usability Group to continue to conduct usability testing of the Library’s website with students. The Assessment Group will invite staff from the Law, Theology, and Medical Libraries to review this Plan and to participate as they see fit.

Perspective and Skill Building

The Library’s Assessment Group has taken seriously the recommendation in the ARL consultants’ report to build the necessary research skills to do effective assessment. One or more members of the Assessment Group have participated in the following conferences, workshops, and classes. The Assessment Group will continue to build perspective and skills in the coming years.

ARL’s 2008 Library Assessment Conference “Building Effective, Sustainable, and Practical Library Assessment”, Seattle, WA

BLC’s Assessment Community of Interest, Boston, MA (co-founded by BU’s AG)

ARL’s 2008 Consulting Service “Effective, Sustainable, and Practical Library Assessment”

ARL’s 2009 Service Quality Academy, New Orleans, LA

BU’s 2009 graduate-level course in Quantitative & Qualitative Research

NERCOMP 2009 Workshop “Assessment into Action”, Amherst, MA


Submitted to Bob Hudson, University Librarian, by the Assessment Group, August, 2009


Assessment Group 2009

Dan Benedetti

David Fristrom

Tim Lewontin

Dan Piekarski

Linda Plunket, chair

Sarah Struble