Writing a Library Assessment Plan?

If you’re working on assessing the value of your library and its services, you may consider creating a library assessment plan. An assessment plan can organize assessment efforts, keep them on track, and record assessment results and lessons learned.

Some excellent resources for creating assessment plans are referenced in the Value Report:

  • Kerby, Debra, and Sandra Weber. “Linking Mission Objectives to an Assessment Plan.”  Journal of Education for Business 75, no. 4 (2000): 202-209.
  • Maki, Peggy L. “Developing an Assessment Plan to Learn about Student Learning.” Journal of Academic Librarianship 28, no. 1 (2002): 8-13.
  • Oakleaf, Meagan. “Writing Information Literacy Assessment Plans: A Guide to Best Practice.” Communications in Information Literacy 3, no. 2 (2010): 80-90.
  • Rubin, Rhea Joyce. Demonstrating Results: Using Outcome Measurement in Your Library. Chicago: American Library Association, 2006.

When I was writing an assessment plan for the information literacy program at University of Wyoming, I used Megan’s article from 2010 to help organize the plan. The elements she suggests including, and which I found immensely useful, follow.

  1. Purpose: Why engage in assessment? What do you hope to gain?
  2. Theory: Assessment for learning, assessment as learning, and assessment as learning to teach are the three assessment theories underpinning assessment practices at most libraries. What theory will be most useful for you and your library programs?
  3. Links to strategic documents: Connect the assessment plan to the larger institution’s mission, vision, and general learning outcomes.
  4. Structures: Are there assessment committees or a coordinator who might shape the assessment practices? What organizational structures will facilitate assessment?
  5. Resources: Assessment requires staff time and materials at the very least. You may also wish to hire a consultant or provide professional development opportunities for staff involved in assessment efforts. The resource section of an assessment plan will describe these needs.
  6. Data Policies: Include policies for data gathering, storage, access and reporting that will protect the rights and privacy of students and librarians.
  7. Goals & Outcomes: A list of agreed-upon overarching goals and specific, measurable learning outcomes is a necessary element of any assessment plan.
  8. Timeline for Continuous Assessment: Describe the schedule for assessing and reassessing individual outcomes. This should articulate realistic plans and recognize that a “one at a time” approach to outcome assessment is best.

If you’d like to see examples of library assessment plans that may inspire your own, check these out:

If you have another great example to share, please comment!

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