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Use of Springhare’s LibWizard Software for Library Assessment Data Collection

September 13, 2021

By Joshua Cohen

At Elizabethtown College, our library staff started brainstorming how to best gather, organize, and report information literacy assessment data during the summer of 2019. We were also looking for software that included a “guide on the side” style, split-screen tutorial to create some more interactive tutorial modules. At a library conference, earlier that spring, I’d heard some fellow instruction librarians talking about the usefulness of LibWizard software from Springshare to this end. After some preliminary research (a very helpful LibWizard product review in The Charleston Advisor from early 2016 compared it favorably to Google Forms), discussions with colleagues, and weighing various options, we moved forward with the purchase of the software (Kaletski). We hoped to use the software for gathering data in the form of surveys, quizzes, and tutorials which are all included in the Full LibWizard package (SpringShare). Prior to using LibWizard, we’d used a number of other software products, including Survey Monkey, Google Forms, and Microsoft Office Forms. We found that LibWizard was preferable to these other products for purposes of organizing, analyzing, and reporting IL data.

Prior to our purchase of LibWizard, there was no central location for our assessment data. Librarians created their own surveys using individual Google Drive or Microsoft Office 365 accounts. Library staff could also use a shared Google account to create surveys and quizzes in one universally accessible location. Google also allows users to place files into different folders which would theoretically make it easier to organize. However, even with folders, anyone with a Google Drive account knows that these accounts can be difficult to keep well-organized. Purchasing LibWizard seemed to solve this problem. All the surveys, quizzes and tutorials created with the product are viewable by all staff members and easy to identify. However, unlike with Google products, you cannot create folders in which to subdivide them, but after more than a year of using LibWizard, this hasn’t been a problem. 

Our college does offer us free access to Word products like Office Forms so we could have used that software for quizzes or surveys, and while there are circumstances in which some librarians have found that it makes sense to use this software, there are significant advantages to using the LibWizard for any data that the library staff might wish to quickly and easily analyze for assessment purposes. For instance, I created surveys for first-year seminar students and instructors, and with the LibWizard software, I could easily pull statistics from these surveys, using filters like a time-range; then LibWizard automatically allows the user to generate bar graphs of these stats. Figure 1 shows a bar graph that I used as part of my Fall 2020 information literacy assessment report, and it took less than a minute to produce it within LibWizard.

I have found that this is a real time-saver for writing assessment reports, and I have not found any way to easily analyze or organize my data with Google or Microsoft Forms. For instance, Microsoft Forms allows you to create very simple quizzes, and the software will automatically generate average scores for these quizzes, but if you’d like any additional data analysis, you would have to export your data into Excel and complete the analysis on your own through Excel, requiring a certain level of expertise with Excel. LibWizard automatically generates average and mean scores, shows you average scores for each question, and allows you to quickly and easily filter your results by dates or other criteria in the “Advanced Filter” settings, pictured in Figure 2.

As helpful as the simple and user-friendly Google and Microsoft products are, they do not offer any “guide-on-the-side” style tutorial option, and LibWizard does. There is one alternative that I found: free open-source software called Guide on the Side that was created by the University of Arizona Libraries; however, you need to have a Linux operating system to set it up and manage it independently–so that software was not an option for our library. I’ve set up a number of the LibWizard standalone tutorials, and while they have their limitations, they have been useful, and students haven’t reported any trouble completing them. The main flaw with the tutorials is that the split-screen viewing can be a challenge for the user to manage when the tutorial is matched up with a webpage like a database. However, I suspect that this flaw would likely be a challenge for any “guide-on-the-side” tutorial, and despite not working together perfectly, I’ve found that the tutorials work well enough with our databases.

I’ve spoken with librarians who have been disappointed that the quizzes and surveys created in LibWizard are not as visually attractive as those that you can create in Google Forms. I will acknowledge that Google Forms provides very easy-to-use and attractive layouts that you don’t have with LibWizard, but the minimalist design of LibWizard was satisfactory for our needs. If you have already used other Springshare products, then you will already be familiar with the layout of their products. Aesthetic design wasn’t a top priority for us when our library was evaluating the product. The central concern was over whether it would help us with our assessment needs, as well as providing us with the tutorial option, and it has successfully fulfilled both of those needs.

If you are looking for a software tool that will help your library staff to more easily organize and assess IL data, I don’t think you could go wrong with LibWizard. It does have a cost associated with it, but for our library, it’s been worth the cost, and I would recommend at least exploring the software to see if it also meets your library’s IL assessment data collection needs.

Joshua Cohen is the Instruction and Outreach Librarian at Elizabethtown College.

References

James, M. (2015). Guide on the side: READ ME file. GitHub, University of Arizona.

https://github.com/ualibraries/Guide-on-the-Side/blob/master/README.md#about

Kaletski, G. (2016). LibWizard. The Charleston Advisor, 18(1), 21-24.

Springshare. (2020) LibWizard. Springshare. https://springshare.com/libwizard/

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