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Library Assessment: Program Description

Libraries/TLT Assessment Program

The UNR Libraries and Teaching & Learning Technologies is committed to engaging in annual assessment of activities related to public service, collections, physical spaces, research needs, web usability, and student learning. The assessment program combines annual departmental assessment plans with larger cross-library projects designed to measure progress toward achieving the Libraries' strategic priorities. The program consists of the following elements:

For more information about Libraries/TLT assessment, please contact Ann Medaille. See By The Numbers and Library Infographic for library statistics.

Program Elements

Annual Department Plans

Each department within the Libraries/TLT creates an annual action plan that incorporates assessment data. Participating departments include @One, the DeLaMare Library, Digital Media Technology, Knowledge Access Management Services, Library Services, Research Services, Special Collections & University Archives, and Teaching & Learning Technologies. Each plan has the following components:

  • Desired outcome: chosen from the Libraries/TLT's strategic priorities
  • Departmental goal: the goal to be achieved
  • Criteria: criteria for success
  • Actions: the actions necessary to achieve the goal
  • Evidence: how the data will be collected
  • Analysis/results: what was learned from the data
  • Planning/change: changes that will be implemented as a result of the assessment

Faculty & Student Survey

In February 2014, the Libraries/TLT conducted a faculty and student survey using an instrument developed by Bryn Mawr College called the Measuring Information Services Outcomes (MISO) survey. Faculty and students reported high levels of satisfaction with most library services and resources, including circulation services, subject librarians, course reserves, reference services, interlibrary loan, physical spaces in the libraries, library databases, and equipment checkout. The most important services identified by each group are listed below:

  • Faculty: (1) access to online resources from off -campus, (2) technology in meeting spaces/classrooms, (3) library databases, (4) support for technology in meeting spaces/classrooms, and (5) WebCampus
  • Graduate students: (1) access to online resources from off-campus, (2) library databases, (3) WebCampus, (4) library support for scholarly research, and (5) library reference services
  • Undergraduate students: (1) access to online resources from off-campus, (2) WebCampus, (3) quiet work space in the library, (4), group study spaces in the library, and (5) library databases

Information from the survey has been used to inform choices related to library hours, mobile access to the library website, library study spaces, and subject librarian planning. Because all three user groups listed “access to online resources from off-campus” as their highest priority, special efforts were made to address this area. The Libraries redesigned the library website with improved search functionality, easier access to subject and course guides, new access portals for databases and journals, and more effective ways to get library assistance at point-of-need through chat service and a sidebar helper window for online content. A new system for authentication from off-campus, “EZproxy,” was introduced, which is more reliable, secure, and consistent with other campus login pages. Improved access to e-books and streaming video resources was provided and includes better integration of library resources into WebCampus. Finally, improved search tools, including OneSearch, allow for easier and more efficient searching across a range of library databases and materials.

Library Spaces & Technologies

The Libraries have used various methods to evaluate space and technology usage within library spaces. In 2014-15, librarians studied the collaborative work practices of students through individual and group interviews and library survey cards. Librarians found that, even when students had not been assigned a group project for a class, they had often formed their own voluntary study groups or were just sitting together to motivate each other or help each other learn. Students wanted spaces that support their learning by providing:

  • enough table space to spread out materials,
  • comfortable furniture where they can work for long periods of time,
  • convenient access to power for laptops and other technologies,
  • whiteboards,
  • sufficient lighting,
  • some spatial delineation that allows for isolation of noise, and
  • technologies such as large-screen monitors and specialized software that support course assignments.

As a result of this assessment, the Knowledge Center rearranged floor space in the summer of 2015 to create more group study space; moreover, the Libraries now feature increased access to group cubicles and whiteboards, better furniture and technologies that support group work, and touchscreen tablets outside of each study room for greater ease of reserving these spaces. The study results have been published by Ithaka S+R: Exploring Group Study at the University of Nevada, Reno.

Faculty & Student Research

The Libraries continually review collections and library tools to ensure that they are adequately supporting the research needs of students and faculty. In 2014-15, an assessment was done to assess the impact of the OneSearch tool on the library homepage, and it was concluded that undergraduate students could easily use it to find materials they needed, such as scholarly journal articles. In 2013-14, subject librarians conducted interviews with 13 faculty members from a variety of disciplines to learn about the ways that they conducted their research. These exploratory interviews revealed that faculty were using a variety of library resources (databases, catalog, library guides, OneSearch), services (ILLiad, Link+, Citrix software, 3D printing, microform readers), and spaces (Faculty and Graduate Room, faculty offices in the library). They were using a variety of methods to stay up-to-date with their research and faced considerable challenges in being organized and in working with a variety of technologies. This exploratory study helped to inform subject librarians about resources and services that are needed within their departments.

User Experience

The Libraries have two committees focused on evaluating and responding to users' experiences with library services: the On-Site User Experience Committee and the Virtual User Experience Committee. Activities of the committees include ongoing data collection, analysis, and implementation of changes. For example, the On-Site User Experience Committee conducts regular observations of user behavior in library spaces. In October 2013, the committee conducted a two-week data gathering period called "Have Your Say Days." Data was collected through both an iPad survey, and paper and web feedback forms in different locations in the Knowledge Center. The average satisfaction rating with the Knowledge Center was an 8.9 out of 10. Comments from the survey and feedback forms were used to make changes regarding whiteboards, printing, signage, maps, and operating hours.

Web Usability

The Libraries regularly conducts usability testing of its web interfaces to determine ways to improve web design, navigation, and functionality of various online tools. For example, in the summer 2014, usability tests were conducted with 15 students; testing data was combined with analytics data from Google Analytics and Crazy Egg to determine the most frequently accessed library pages and the most common paths of navigation. The results informed the design of the new library website, and included an improved search box on the homepage, better access to subject and course guides, reduced repetition and use of jargon, better access to information about library assistance, and better categorization of links for more intuitive searching. In 2015, usability tests were conducted with 15 graduate students and community researchers to inform the design and functionality of a new Manuscripts and Archives Collections Guide Database, which provides improved discovery of information located in Special Collections and University Archives.