Academic library impact - how to demonstrate value

How well can libraries demonstrate their impact on student learning and success?

It is critical that academic libraries can demonstrate their value to funders and institutional stakeholders. A new report demonstrates ways in which libraries are measuring their contribution to student learning and success and recommends where more research is needed in areas such as student retention and academic achievement.

The report covers a range of ways academic libraries can demonstrate value – and makes suggestions for further areas of research.  Topics covered include:

Communicating the library's contributions

Effective practices include:

  • adopt terminology used by institutions top level administrators
  • engage in cross-departmental and divisional meetings and conversation with leadership
  • keep communication regular and consistent
  • look at how other departments, and not just the academic ones, are communicating their value
  • recruit individuals to advocate on the library’s behalf
  • use library space to provide central meeting grounds across departments

Quantify library's impact on student success

Effective practices include:

  • work with academic services and faculty to develop ethical collection and reporting methods for individual-level student data that retain individual privacy and confidentiality
  • select student success indicators that consider the diverse experiences of students
  • work with others to ensure the library is included in developing academic and everyday life support services for students

Enhance teaching and learning

Effective practices include:

  • Engage with faculty and students for librarian inclusion in developing academic and everyday life support services for students.
  • Keep abreast of higher education trends
  • Support student engagement with library services, spaces, and collections by aligning with related programs that require them

Match library assessment to institutional mission

Effective practices include:

  • Go outside of the library to collect data and suggest collaborations with other campus units
  • Support student success by aligning services, collections, and spaces to support institutional objectives
  • Include non-traditional metrics e.g. student recruitment and alumni engagement
  • Use terminology similar to that used by others within the academic institution
  • Work with faculty and staff from teaching and learning support services to build a culture of assessment that effectively demonstrates library alignment with the institutional mission, goals, and priorities.

The full report is published by OCLC and ACRL.  It is available to download here.