Libraries are for Use

Demonstrating the value of librarianship

Catching up…

I have let myself get quite behind on my reading and blogging in order to get some “primary duties” completed.  Now, I’d like to catch up.

First, a little bit of librarianship history & theory revealed in this review of a re-release of a book about Jesse Shera.  I recall learning a bit about Shera and his contributions to librarianship way back in my MLS days.  Now, I’m intrigued and was disappointed that my library didn’t have the book in question.  However, I have requested a few of his books to be pulled from remote storage.

The latest Evidence-Based Library and Information Practice (EBLIP) issue was released and it includes several interesting articles that I wanted to share (cavaeat – I am a peer-reviewer for EBLIP):

  • Developing and Applying an Information Literacy Rubric to Student Annotated Bibliographies by Erin Rinto.  I’m currently on a university committee that reviews the core courses and how they are assessed, in order to ensure compliance with state policies.  I have learned much more about rubrics than I had known before, and have been keeping up with attempts to develop an information literacy rubric.  I’d like to compare their locally-generated rubric with other attempts in order to develop a comprehensive rubric that could be replicated.
  • Alignment of Citation Behaviors of Philosophy Graduate Students and Faculty by Jennifer Knieval.  This is another example of a local citation analysis for collection development purposes.  Her analysis answered the basic question – graduate philosophy students do cite the same kinds of materials in their dissertations as the faculty do for their papers.  My main concern with using local citation analysis for collection development decisions is that it reflects usage of what is available to the users.  While this would be useful for prioritizing resources already provided, it should be accompanied by a global citation analysis (of articles and books published in by those not affiliated with the university) to identify important resources that are missing.  Also, I would very much like to conduct some sort of systematic review or even (if the stars align) a meta-analysis of such local citation studies in order to determine benchmarks for collection assessments.

ARL’s Investment Index for 2011-12 has been released.  I’ve downloaded the Excel file and will analyze the data later.  But for now, I’m curious about the formula they used:

Four-Variable Formulas for ARL Investment Index Scores
Formula for ARL Statistics 2011-12
0.000000051366896 x total library expenditures
+ 0.000000015524539 x salaries & wages professional staff
+ 0.00000001920517 x total library materials expenditures
+ 0 x professional plus support staff

I’m really surprised by the low (now non-existing) weight given to the number of professional staff.  Can the salaries really be a proxy for the number of persons?  I suppose so, if the range of salaries is relatively narrow.  I’m trying to get more information on the calculation of these weights.  The “background” link doesn’t provide anything that answers my questions.  The only article I could find with a quick search of my library’s own Summon discovery service and of Google was an article in the Journal of Academic Librarianship by Martha Kyrillidou (2000), in which she refers to the “ARL Membership Criteria Index”, but there is no citation, except that it was featured in the Chronicle of Higher Education.  Guess I need to do some more research on this.

OK, maybe I’m just being naive, but is it really necessary to publish this book, I don’t know: In praise of admitting ignorance (except when you shouldn’t)?  I guess if we need a book to remind us what we learned in kindergarten, we need this book.  Actually, if it wasn’t for the insistence of my husband, I might just be in need of this, myself.  One benefit of having a partner in your life is to keep you from yelling into the echo-chamber.

Finally, a couple of interesting sites about journals – edanz’s Journal Selector and JournalRate.  They are both aimed at scholars who ask that eternal question, where do I send my article?  The latter is pretty basic, allowing users to find journals by keywords or categories, while the former adds a bit of sophistication – you can enter your abstract and it will provide a list of the most appropriate journals.  Well, sort of…

Now, I know that some libraries have been trying to become the source of this answer, so this may throw a wrench into those plan.  But don’t toss out those plans out just yet…I tested it by using abstracts from published journals and the results were not that impressive.  Out of 3 abstracts from Academic Pediatrics and few pediatrics journals were in the top 5.

Now, I’m little intrigued – both services offer impact factors.  I’m not sure how they’re getting away with using Thomson Reuters’ Impact Factors.  I would imagine that if they were using it properly, they would be paying a pretty penny.  And if not, well then…

I guess that’s enough catching up for now…


One comment on “Catching up…

  1. Karen R. Harker, MLS, MPH
    September 21, 2013

    OK, I’ve found more details about the ARL Investment Index:

    I should have known this was largely Brinley Franklin’s work – it’s got his statistical workmanship all over it. Here’s his original reports…

    Originally, they used principal component analysis (PCA) to come up with weights or coefficients for each of 5 criteria: volumes held, volumes added, current serials, total library expenditures and total professional staff. This was the ARL Measurement Index.

    This has been changed to the ARL Investment Index: total expenditures, salaries for professional staff, expenditures for materials, and total number of professional staff. Now, this has been reduced by one – effectively eliminating the number of staff. Essentially, how much money for the important stuff (materials and librarians) is being put into the libraries?

    I’m a little concerned about the overlap of these 3 components – but I guess I need to do a little reading before I comment further.

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This entry was posted on September 21, 2013 by in Academic Libraries, Assessment, LIS Data, LIS Research, Publishing.

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