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Assessment at Niagara University Library: Research


This page identifies research studies that provide useful information.


Planning and Designing Academic Library Learning Spaces: Expert Perspectives o f Architects, Librarians, and Library Consultants

Key Findings:

"Architects (77%) and librarians (50%) placed a premium on creating “flexible” spaces in libraries. This meant designing space that was “user-defined,” so users could reconfigure a space at a moment’s notice based on their needs"

"While layouts and design preferences varied from one project to the next, one shared goal was the creation of spaces that supported a full spectrum of students’ learning needs."

"Librarians and architects placed importance on what students needed in their libraries. Yet, less than a third of the sample (31%) said they used formal methods to systematically collect user data as part of the planning process." (Note to self--involve students in the design process).

"From our interviews, the most-cited best practice was the need for good communication"

"A lack of control over high-level decision-making was a serious challenge for librarians. This was most pervasive during the selection of academic partnerships for learning support services space. In many cases, librarians said provosts and other high-level administrators had made these decisions very early on without librarians’ input. The result was occasional clashes related to mission, culture, and the subsequent allocation of learning commons space"

"Most projects in our sample took far longer to complete than first expected. Sometimes delays occurred when stakeholders left for another job and new stakeholders came in with different design priorities. In other cases, financing difficulties caused project delays."

"Taken together, we found the success of library projects is dependent upon a shared knowledge and understanding of the sweeping learning, pedagogical, and research changes facing the academy. Librarians and architects need to work together to apply that knowledge and understanding to the unique environment and learning and teaching needs of their specific institution."

"The librarians and architects we interviewed placed a premium on designing user-centered spaces, yet few had systematically collected input from users for making pre-design decisions or conducting post-occupancy evaluations. If user input was collected, it was usually from a sample of students, but not of faculty. Our findings suggest the planning and design of library learning spaces requires librarians and architects to have a deep familiarity with all end-users and what they need to be productive as learners."

An Old Horse Revived?: In-house Use of Print Books at Seton Hall University

"Our study suggests that it may be time to revive an old practice — collecting and reporting data on in-house use of books. Studies of in-house book use are sparse, and likely to become more so if librarians follow the directive of the recent IPEDS release to exclude in-house book use data from circulation statistics. In-house use of books accounted for almost 30% of our circulation transactions during 2013–14. A number of early studies concluded that because in-house use was correlated with external circulation, it was unnecessary to collect in-house use data. However, it is necessary to determine the relationship between the two uses in order to estimate total use, which provides a more accurate picture of library value. In addition, simply estimating the extent of in-house use does not inform collection development because this does not indicate which titles are being used. From our study sample of the Q and R call numbers it appeared that many books are used in-house and not checked out."

Utility: We have been assuming that books checked out or used in-house are mostly the same books. We need to examine that assumption.

Initial Offer Precision and M&A Outcomes

"Our results have applications for M&A practice. First, some bidders may use round offer prices on purpose to make the target feel like the bidder left some “meat on the bone” for them, hoping this will improve their chances of winning the deal. Our results speak against this idea: round offer prices are not only associated with a higher price adjustment, but also with a lower chance for the initial bidder winning the deal. Second, it is virtually costless to change the offer price from a round number to a precise one, allowing the bidder to signal (or hide) its private information (or lack of it) on the accuracy of its valuation of the target. If the link between bid precision and M&A outcomes remains as strong in the future as it has been until now, this simple intervention can increase the chances of a successful offer and yet generate significant cost savings."

Utility: This research is consistent with other research we have seen.  For example, instead of offering $4,200 in a negotiation for a database, it might be better to offer $4,232. Vendors use this technique with us often. They rarely price something at a round number. We should guard against this and use the technique as a tool ourselves.

Consortial Book Circulation Patterns: The OCLC-OhioLINK Study

Useful because it related to book use in academic libraries. Findings:

  • "Trueswell’s 80/20 rule—that 80% of the usage is generated by 20% of the collection—is widely accepted. However, with the OhioLINK data, the pattern observed varied significantly from that predicted by the 80/20 rule. Usage was far less scattered with 7.2 % of manifestations accounting for 80% of the circulation. Of the 5,899,520 manifestations that were permitted to circulate, only 1,041,405 (17.7%) circulated; less than 20% of the manifestations accounted for all of the circulation."
  • "Overall, 72.9% of the manifestations did not circulate and 8.5% circulated only once. The individual subject collections exhibited similar usage pattern with close to 80% of the books either not circulating or circulating only once."
  • If an item stops circulating, it tends not to start circulating again: "While age is a good predictor of use, it is not the best predictor—date of last use is a much better predictor of future use. The probability of an item circulating as a function of how long it has been since it last circulated is shown in Figure 5. The probability of an item circulating if it has been idle for ten years or more stabilizes at approximately 0.0075 and does not change significantly for items unused for longer periods."

Effects of Mentioning the Incentive Prize in the Email Subject Line on Survey Response.

Finding: "Reminding survey participants with an email that mentions the incentive prize in the subject line appears to increase response rates with no deleterious effects on data quality." Other useful advice:

Because of the negative effects found in other research that mentioned the incentive prize in the email invitation (Kent & Brandal, 2003; Linegang & Moroney, 2012), great attention was paid to ways to alleviate the spam effect that may have influenced the outcome of these studies. In both of the intervention years, 2010 and 2013, the invitation email had the following subject line: Library Survey - Please let us know what you think of our service. Only the reminder email, sent one week after the invitation, mentioned the incentive prize: Library Survey – you could win an [name of incentive prize]. The purpose of this two-stage approach was to build trust and familiarity with the initial invitation and then mention the incentive prize with the follow-up. A final strategy employed was to construct the subject lines in a consistent manner that made it clear that the email was indeed an invitation to a reputable survey. This strategy avoided the use of excessive capitalization, as in the case with Linegang and Moroney, and mentioned the word survey, unlike in the research by Kent and Brandal.   The final reminder, sent a week after the first, had the following subject line: Library Survey – your last chance to win an [name of incentive prize]. In 2010, the incentive prize was an iPod touch, while in 2013 it was an iPad mini. Enrolment Services sent out the invitations and reminders, and the author’s institutional email address appeared as the sender in order to be the one to receive any replies with questions.