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Assessment at Niagara University Library: Strategic Goals

Recently Completed

Increase access to electronic journals.  Result: The Library now provides access to a high percentage of  the core journals in most disciplines. Dependence on Interlibrary Loan was reduced.

Increase access to electronic books. Result: Through a Purchase on Demand system, the Library increased the number of electronic books available to students and faculty from 70,000 to more than 350,000.

To support an increase in online courses, expand access to streaming video. Result: Access to Swank Digital Campus and Kanopy were made available.

Implement a Discovery Service to make it easier for our users to search numerous Library databases via a single search boxResult: The service is heavily used (up to 1,500 searches during busy weeks).

Expand 24-hour access to the building by opening the entire first floor for 24-hour access. Result: Popular with students. In 2017, most of the second floor was opened for 24-hour access

Expand computer access in the Library. Result: The IT Help Desk and main computer lab now reside in the Library. Attendance has increased substantially.

Expand the scope and reach of information literacy training. Result: Adjusting for size of institution, the Library's Information Literacy Program is larger than most  peer schools. The program has also increased its online training capabilities.

Student Retention. Support students  who may not be able to afford all their textbooks by increasing the size of the Reserve Collection. Result: From 2013-14 to 2015-16, Reserve circulation increased by 31%. 

In 2016, the Library completed what was essentially a 10-year plan to outsource most of its electronic infrastructure to hosted products. Result:  We are able to operate with leaner staffing than most of our peer schools and are well positioned to seek out new service opportunities on campus.

In the Process of Being Formulated

The recently completed strategic goals focused on improving collections, increasing the reach of information literacy instruction, and expanding access to the building and computers.

The focus of the upcoming cycle is enhancing service, increasing outreach, and improving the facility. The goals below are in the formulation stage. Please send comments and suggestions to David Schoen at

1. Challenge: Drop-in reference questions have declined both in terms quantity and complexity of questions.

Solution 1.1: Reformulate the model for providing research support to students

  • Rename "Reference," which doesn't mean anything to students.
  • Redesign the web page so that it better serves the motto: "Ask Us: We're Here to Help."
  • Let students easily sign up for research appointments via the Web.  
  • Increase the availability of the online chat service.
  • Expand the knowledge base so students will more frequently find answers without mediation.
  • Employ reference assistants in a more dynamic, proactive way.

2. Challenge: Finding new ways for librarians to support student learning and faculty teaching.

Solution 2.1: Expand Outreach Services and fully implement the model of all librarians being responsible for outreach and making new connections to the NU Community.

This can take many forms and can include things like:

  • Increasing use of an existing service.
  • Developing a new service or technology that extends our reach and fills a service vacuum on campus.
  • Experimenting with an innovative service.
  • Partnering with students, another department, or faculty in a new way.
  • Accepting a leadership role on University Committees.
  • Organizing events that connect the Library to the Community and support student engagement.
  • Having more regular contact with faculty and students in a way that is important and of service to them.

Solution 2.2:  Facilitate training that supports faculty in their teaching and staff in their organizational work through the development of "NU Skill Shops."

Solution 2.3. Conduct exploratory assessment to identify service or support vacuums on campus.

3. Challenge: Reaching and supporting students with unique or emerging needs and/or time constraints.

Solution 3.1: Develop more extensive Library support for international students, doctoral students, student athletes, and online students.

Solution 3.2: Provide consultation, research support, and instruction in the discovery and use of statistical and numerical data resources.

Solution 3.3: Focus assessment on learning what newly emerging academic support needs are not currently being adequately met.

Solution 3.4: Develop more targeted marketing.

4. Challenge: Assessment demonstrates that students are generally satisfied with the Library overall, but report deficiencies in group study space and quiet study space. 

Solution 4.1: Increase the amount of 24-hour space available by expanding access to the north end of the second floor. This will make a lot more quiet study space available overnight as well as two group study rooms.  Status: Completed in 2017.

Solution 4.2: Create improved quiet study space on the southwest end of the second floor by installing small booths, which are popular with students.

Solution 4.3: Create additional quiet study space on the northwest corner of the second floor.

Solution 4.4; Improve the aesthetics of study spaces by replacing carpet in the basement level.

Solution 4.5: Convert the end-of-life and partially non-functional compact shelving in the basement to hand crank.  Status: Converted to static shelving in Summer 2017. Additional benefit. Much more natural light in the basement

Solution 4.6: In key locations, replace aging furniture with more modern, comfortable designs. In 2017, more than 70 new chairs were purchased for various areas.

5. Challenge: Monograph circulation is in decline. Database inflation eats into a flat materials budget.

Solution 5.1  ‚ÄčOptimize book expenditures by relying on purchase on demand more.

  • Develop a branding and marketing plan for the service that allows us to better partner with students and faculty in developing the collection.
  • Increase PDA purchase options.
  • Hold a "Future of the of the Print Book Collection" summit with Humanities faculty to learn where they are with changing print book usage.
  • Revise collection development policies.
  • Develop new book sharing partnerships to optimize usage and provide faculty and students with more options for unmediated ordering or books and DVDS.

Expected Outcome

  • Fewer print books purchased "just in case."  But continued rapid acquisitions of print books on demand and even larger electronic book collections.
  • A continuing right-sizing of the print book collection in preparation for an eventual major renovation.