“In God We Trust, But All Others Must Bring Data”
Yesterday (Tuesday May 17th) Dr. Megan Oakleaf led a dynamic workshop dedicated to helping attendees learn how to demonstrate the academic library’s value to the institution. Megan Oakleaf’s keynote presentation was based around her recent ACRL publication titled The Value of Academic Libraries (VAL). While many librarians have doubtlessly skimmed the executive summary to the VAL report, this presentation took attendees beyond the executive summary, helping them to see more clearly what is and is not known about the impact that academic libraries have on their institutions.
Attendees were encouraged to see the value of the library in a larger context, something that special, public, and school libraries have been doing for years. Instead of focusing on what we do, academic librarians should ask themselves what it is that we enable others (students, faculty, and administrators) to do better. For example: Oakleaf says that it is not enough for academic libraries to show that students know their Boolean operators. To continue to remain relevant, we must show our institutions how this knowledge contributes to student retention and success. “This is not business as usual” Oakleaf emphasizes. Instead, “This is a national re-framing of academic library value.” The central questions academic libraries should be asking in the future are: how do we increase our impact & how do we measure that impact?
Two hands on activity sessions were incorporated into Oakleaf’s presentation to help attendees think critically about how library services correlate with institutional goals (such as student enrollment, retention, engagement, faculty teaching, institutional prestige, and so on). Librarians were also encouraged to develop action steps to take back with them to their institution (using Appendix A, the “Academic Library Value Checklist,” from the VAL report as a guide). Megan concluded by encouraging library administrators to talk more about assessment and to model assessment based on institutional goals at their institutions.
Oakleaf also moderated a panel discussion to help librarians learn more about what academic institutions value. Present on this panel were higher education administrators from various institutions, several different academic offices, and also representative from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. The panel responded to several questions presented by Oakleaf designed to show librarians what institutional drivers administrators were most concerned with, and what the perception of the administration was about how the library contributes to success in these areas. Panelists emphasized that the academic library and librarians were in a great position to look beyond our traditional roles and “infiltrate” into other areas of the institution where we can add value or fill in institutional gaps.
- Dr. Mary Anne Fedrick, Dean of the College of Education and Human Development, Marywood University, Scranton, PA
- Dr. Ellie Fogarty, Vice President, Middle States Commission on Higher Education, Philadelphia, PA
- Dr. Betty Harper, Director of Student Affairs Research & Assessment, Penn State University, University Park, PA
- Dr. Maureen McCreadie, Dean of Learning Resources, Bucks County Community College, Newtown, PA
- Dr. Jerome Rackoff, Assistant Vice President, Planning & Institutional Research, Bucknell University, Lewisburg, PA
Couldn’t make it? Read Megan’s editorial in the May 2011 issue of College & Research Libraries.
You can also view the Workshop Twitter Feed to see what pieces of information librarians found most valuable during the session itself. The twitter feed also includes links to additional resources which were mentioned by Oakleaf or the panelists during the workshop session.