Data-Driven Decision Making: An Holistic Approach to Assessment in Special Collections Repositories

  • Melanie Griffin University of South Florida Tampa, Florida, United States of America
  • Barbara Lewis University of South Florida Tampa, Florida, United States of America
  • Mark I. Greenberg Western Washington University Bellingham, Washington, United States of America
Keywords: assessment, special collections

Abstract

Objective – In an environment of shrinking budgets and reduced staffing, this study seeks to identify a comprehensive, integrated assessment strategy to better focus diminished resources within special collections repositories.

Methods – This article presents the results of a single case study conducted in the Special and Digital Collections department at a university library. The department created an holistic assessment model, taking into account both public and technical services, to explore inter-related questions affecting both day-to-day operations as well as long-term, strategic priorities.

Results – Data from a variety of assessment activities positively impacted the department’s practices, informing decisions made about staff skill sets, training, and scheduling; outreach activities; and prioritizing technical services. The results provide a comprehensive view of both patron and department needs, allowing for a wide variety of improvements and changes in staffing practices, all driven by data rather than anecdotal evidence.

Conclusion – Although the data generated for this study is institutionally specific, the methodology is applicable to special collections departments at other institutions. A systemic, holistic approach to assessment in special collections departments enables the implementation of operational efficiencies. It also provides data that allows the department to document its value to university-wide stakeholders.

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Author Biographies

Melanie Griffin, University of South Florida Tampa, Florida, United States of America
Special Collections Librarian
Barbara Lewis, University of South Florida Tampa, Florida, United States of America
Coordinator for Digital Collections
Mark I. Greenberg, Western Washington University Bellingham, Washington, United States of America
Dean of Libraries
Published
2013-06-10
How to Cite
GriffinM., LewisB., & GreenbergM. I. (2013). Data-Driven Decision Making: An Holistic Approach to Assessment in Special Collections Repositories. Evidence Based Library and Information Practice, 8(2), 225-238. https://doi.org/10.18438/B8D03M
Section
Research Articles