Ensuring user access. Incorporating e-books. Improving user experience. Managing copyright and fair use. These are but a few of the challenges facing today’s librarians and information professionals. But one challenge seems to rise above all of the others: proving value.
The March-April issue of Information Outlook magazine addresses two aspects of this challenge—correlating research productivity and learning outcomes with library and information center usage. In “Studying Your Users to Improve Services,” Jenny Taylor, a librarian at the University of Illinois, describes the results of a project she led that studied how employees at Dow Chemical conduct research. Megan Oakleaf, an associate professor in the iSchool at Syracuse University, discusses the skills librarians need to identify and leverage associations between library usage and improved academic outcomes in her article, “Correlating Library Services, Expertise, and Resources with Student Learning.”
Both authors have valuable and somewhat unexpected lessons to share. Taylor, for example, devotes several paragraphs to explaining how researchers like to be trained to use search tools, while Oakleaf cautions that librarians do more harm than good by trying to prove that library instruction causes students to earn higher grades.
In her “Info Business” column, Debbie Schachter picks up where Taylor and Oakleaf leave off by borrowing from academic models to show how learning can be measured in corporate training environments. Identifying the expected outcomes of such training and surveying students before and after the training takes place are, she writes, essential first steps in measuring value.
These articles, the SLA member interview with Barbara Burton, a new column by SLA Fellows and Rising Stars, and more are available in the March-April issue. Read it now!