Research & Statistics on Libraries & Librarianship in 2003
Keith Curry Lance
Library Research Service
Colorado State Library and University of Denver
Every year there are many exciting developments in research and statistics on libraries and librarianship, but that is especially true of 2003.
The nation’s academic libraries made enormous progress in the development of new statistics and performance measures needed to understand and demonstrate their value in a high-tech, Internet-oriented world. Research explored the various ways in which academic libraries operate differently than they did less than a generation ago, and how even those new models are continuing to evolve. Public library research examined national political issues (threats to civil liberties)as well as local ones (thriving via community partnerships), and public library statistics made noteworthy progress in catching up with technological change—as well as catching up, in terms of their own timeliness and accessibility, with utilizing technology. Last year was a banner year for school library research, which included more evidence demonstrating how much school librarians influence students’ academic achievement and new initiatives focusing on how school librarians improve student learning. For all types of libraries, technology-related studies released in 2003 mapped the course to a future in which digital content is easier to locate, access, manipulate, and use.
The title of this year’s article begins “Research and Statistics” instead of just “Research” because, in 2003, it became clearer than ever that the seriousness with which library research results will be regarded depends very largely on the relevance, accuracy, and timeliness of the data available to, and created by, researchers.
In short, if Mary Jo Lynch—longtime director of the American Library Association (ALA) Office for Research and Statistics and longtime author of this article—had to choose 2003 as the year of her retirement, at least she chose a year when she could go out “on a high note.”
Technology and its effect on libraries shaped the research agenda for academic libraries in 2003. Directors of major college and university libraries (and some metropolitan public libraries) relied on the Statistics and Measurement Program of the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) for the data they needed for advocacy, planning and evaluation, and daily decision-making involving information technology. Various other researchers and organizations addressed technology-related issues that have major implications for academic library staffing, collections, and funding, such as virtual reference services, electronic journals, consortial site licenses, and even the changing roles of academic librarians.
ARL’s New Measures Initiative
The ARL New Measures Initiative (NMI) is a collection of related efforts by academic libraries to develop new measures to understand and account for expenditures and use of electronic resources. It was started in 1999 because member libraries wanted to demonstrate their value and describe their operations in terms of outcomes and impacts. NMI has focused on developing measures in eight areas of interest: user satisfaction, market penetration, ease and breadth of access, library impact on teaching and learning, library impact on research, cost effectiveness of library operations and services, library facilities and space, and organizational capacity. ARL was able to report good progress in 2003. (See http://www.arl.org/stats/newmeas/newmeas.html.)
Over 300 libraries participated in the spring 2003 LibQUAL+ survey, with more than 120,000 library users producing the largest data set of its kind on user perceptions about and satisfaction with library services. Data collected can be used by participating institutions to evaluate and make changes in their services. Most participants were academic libraries, but for the first time in 2003 the protocol was tested on other types of libraries and in other countries. Efforts funded by the National Science Foundation are being made to adapt LibQUAL+ to assess digital library service quality in an effort called e-QUAL. This project tested an initial set of survey questions in late 2003 and planned a second round of testing in spring 2004. (See http://www.libqual.org.)
The E-Metrics project has been developing measures to assess the value and use of electronic resources. It identified 16 measures for patron-accessible resources, use of networked resources and related infrastructure, expenditures for networked resources and related infrastructure, and library digitization activities. It also identified three measures of the use or performance of electronic resources. As a result, data about expenditures for e-resources will move from the Supplementary Statistics survey to the main ARL Statistics survey for the 2003–2004 data collection cycle. Other data elements in the E-Metrics pilot project will move into the ARL Supplementary Statistics program for wider evaluation. (See http://www.arl.org/stats/newmeas/emetrics/index.html.)
Other NMI Projects
ARL’s study Assessing ILL/DD (Interlibrary Loan/Document Delivery) Services was conducted in the fall of 2002 in a total of 75 libraries. Expanding on a 1997 study, this replication updates and expands upon the earlier research design, generating current data on both mediated and user-initiated services. The final report is expected soon and should provide data to assist libraries to improve operations. (See http://www.arl.org/stats/newmeas/ill-dd.html.)
Other ongoing efforts in the NMI include Measuring the Impact of Net-worked Electronic Services (MINES), Standardized Assessment of Information Literacy Skills (Project SAILS), a Technical Services Cost Study (see http:// www.arl.org/stats/newmeas/tcs_overview.html), and a Staff Allocations Project (see http://www.arl.org/newsltr/230/timecost.html).
MINES uses a pop-up Web-survey methodology to learn how and for what purpose users turn to electronic services. Brinley Franklin and Terry Plum tested the survey in seven institutions. ARL is now looking at how to expand and adapt the methodology to a broader range of research libraries. (See http://www.arl.org/ newsltr/230/usage.html.)
Project SAILS is partially funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and based at Kent State University. This project will develop a survey and survey administration practices to assess student information-literacy skills. The survey should help to identify measures to describe the library contribution to student learning outcomes. Phase I of SAILS had seven participating libraries and was completed in June 2003. Phase II has more than 40 participating libraries for the fall 2003 and spring 2004 semesters. (See http://sails.lms.kent.edu/index.php.)
“Mainstreaming New Measures,” an excellent summary by Julia C. Blixrud of the accomplishments and ongoing work of the ARL New Measures Initiative, can be found at http://www.arl.org/newsltr/230/mainstreaming.html. Detailed articles about developments in the various components of the program can be found in the same issue of ARL: A Bimonthly Report on Research Library Issues and Actions from ARL, CNI, and SPARC. (http://www.arl.org/newsltr/230/index.html).
ARL also contributed research about electronic resources this year in its SPEC Kit series, based on findings from surveys sent to member libraries. Growth in chat reference, laptop computer services, and data mining and data warehousing in academic libraries are new topics covered since December 2002. Information about the series can be found at http://www.arl.org/spec.
Academic Library Statistics at NCES
It is no secret why the nation’s academic libraries rely on their two major associations— ARL and the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL)—for statistics. The federal Academic Library Survey, formerly part of the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) surveys, continues to receive low priority at the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). At this writing (early 2004), the latest NCES E.D. TAB publication on academic libraries is for 2000. The latest data file is for 1998, and it was not released until July 2002. No publications or data files for academic libraries were released by NCES during calendar 2003. (See http://nces.ed.gov/surveys/libraries/academic.asp.) [A report on the NCES Library Statistics Program appears in Part 1—Ed.]
ACRL published a monograph in 2003 of the proceedings of a symposium on digital reference research held in August 2002.The goal of the symposium was to create a research agenda on digital reference that brought together digital reference, library practice, digital libraries, and computer science. Current research on digital reference is one of the topics covered. Information can be found at http://www.ala.org/ala/acrlbucket/nonserialtitles/digitalreference.htm.
Electronic resources and their role in the academic library is a topic of continuing interest and research. Carol Tenopir analyzes and presents a summary of eight major studies and about 100 smaller ones done from 1995 to 2003 in Use and Users of Electronic Library Resources: An Overview and Analysis of Recent Re-search Studies published by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR). The report finds contradictions in some study findings, but some clear messages about library users and electronic resources. Electronic resource use differs among users based on their status, subject discipline, task, type of institution, age, and gender. Students and faculty like and will use electronic resources if they are perceived as convenient. They like to print out relevant articles. Students at all levels respond to recommendations about resources from teachers, librarians, and friends. Library policies have both intentional and unintentional effects on user behavior. The full report is available at http://www.clir.org/pubs/ abstract/pub120abst.html.
The Consortium Site License: Is It a Sustainable Model?
The consortium site license was explored by the Ingenta Institute, which commissioned three related independent studies in 2002. Reports on all three studies were released during 2003. The first, done by Donald W. King of the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Information Sciences, employed findings from longitudinal studies of journal usage and data from consortia questionnaires and surveys of scientists to look at the impact of electronic journals on the journal system. The second, done by Key Perspectives, relied on focus groups and key informant interviews to look at the impact of consortium site licenses on scholarly journal publishers and academic libraries. The third, done by the Centre for Information Behavior and the Analysis of Research (CiBAR), looked at the consortium site license from the user perspective by analyzing usage data from two international publishers. Preliminary conclusions suggest that consortium site licenses are likely to change. Reduced budgets in many libraries will conflict with publishers’ expectations of annual income increases. Many librarians express discontent with “all-or-nothing” product models and would like to be able to select individual journal titles. Analysis shows that availability of extra electronic content leads to more use, but libraries want better usage data so they can make informed decisions about electronic journals. Information about ordering the full report proceedings can be found at http://www.ingenta.com/institute.
Changing Roles of Academic Information Professionals
While there is a large, profitable industry built upon research and statistics associated with academic library collections (e.g., EBSCO, Faxon), it is a somewhat unusual year in which the private sector takes any notice of academic librarians; 2003 was such a year. Outsell, Inc. published a report in September 2003 called The Changing Roles of Content Deployment Functions: Academic Information Professionals. It was based on interviews with 328 information professionals in education. The report found budgetary constraints and technological developments were causing information professionals in academia to restructure their services. Topics include roles and responsibilities, users and services, content deployment and spending, budgets, and staffing, among other topics. Summary and purchasing information is available at http://content.outsellinc.com/coms2/ summary__0221_000296_000000_000000_0221_1.
Public library research reported in 2003 covered such issues as how public libraries deal with
- Challenges to patrons’ civil liberties
- How public libraries build community partnerships that enable them to thrive in difficult economic times
- The extent to which and manner in which public libraries present them-selves on the Web
- The impact of public access computing on their services, especially to traditionally underserved populations
Organizations involved in creating public library statistics made some progress toward catching up with technology trends, including exploiting that technology to facilitate the collection and use of data on public libraries and their users.
Public Librarians and Civil Liberties
The Library Research Center (LRC) of the University of Illinois Graduate School of Library and Information Science produced what was probably the most publicized public library research of 2003. Their study, “Public Libraries and Civil Liberties: A Profession Divided,” surveyed U.S. public libraries serving populations over 5,000 regarding the protection of patron privacy, specifically in response to the passage of the USA Patriot (Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism) Act of October 2001. A total of 219 responding libraries said they had cooperated-ed with law enforcement requests for information about patrons’ reading habits, while 225 libraries said that they had not. Nearly 70 percent of responding public libraries have instructed staff or library boards about library policies regarding patron privacy. LRC’s survey found that librarians were generally unwilling to change their policies. Only 9.7 percent of those who responded had changed their patron Internet use policies in the wake of the USA Patriot Act, and a scant 1.7 percent had voluntarily withdrawn materials that might assist terrorists. In 8.5 percent of libraries, staff members are now more likely to monitor materials that people are checking out; 4.1 percent of libraries have reported staff voluntarily reporting patron records or behaviors to authorities; and, in 8.3 percent of libraries, patrons have reported concern about the behavior of another patron in relation to suspected terrorist activities. (See http://alexia.lis.uiuc.edu/gslis/research/civil_liberties.html.)
Urban Public Libraries and Partnerships
One of the purposes of the Urban Libraries Council (ULC) is to conduct research that improves the practice of librarianship as a profession. In 2000 ULC made good on that commitment by partnering with the Urban Institute on a study titled “Partnerships for Free Choice Learning: Public Libraries, Museums, and Public Broadcasters Working Together.” Research activities included a survey of adults, surveys of executives and staff of the three types of cultural institutions, and field investigations at seven urban sites. The findings revealed in the 2003 report identify
- Characteristics of individuals and communities leading to their participation in such learning
- Alternative governing, financial, and legal arrangements for partnerships
- Challenges and opportunities created by partnering activities themselves
- Strategies for mitigating the risks of participation in partnerships
- The life-cycle dynamics of partnerships
This project was funded by a 2000–2002 IMLS National Leadership Grant. (See http://www.urbanlibraries.org/collaborationspartnerships.htm.)
Public Libraries and the Web
Chandra Prabha and Raymond D. Irwin, researchers at the Online Computer Library Center (OCLC) Office of Research, undertook a study of the Web presence of public libraries in the United States and Canada, reporting their results in the journals Public Libraries and Library Hi Tech. They randomly selected 189 public libraries, searching for and visiting their Web sites in the winter of 2001 and again in the winter of 2002. Of these 189, in 2002, they found that 145 had Web sites. The study attempted to measure Web access to public libraries, describe public library services available in the Web space, and characterize public library Web collections. (See http://www.oclc.org/research.) The most encouraging result of their study was that 72 percent of library Web sites provided access to professionally selected Web resources. Seventy per-cent of the libraries that Prabha and Irwin studied provided online access to their library catalogs, 63 percent provided access to licensed databases, and 21 percent offered interactive reference services. Libraries’ presence on the Web is growing: 77 percent of libraries had Web sites in February 2002, compared with 58 percent in February 2001. Prabha and Irwin characterized public libraries’ presence on the Web by dividing them into three categories:
- “Malls” had a significant Web presence, including catalogs, databases, and interactive reference
- “Strip-malls” had a more limited array of offerings, but definitely had an online catalog
- “Storefronts” had a very limited amount of information on their Web site, such as location and hours
More than half of the libraries (51 percent ) in their study could be termed as “malls,” and about a third (32 percent ) were characterized as “storefronts.” Not surprisingly, larger libraries in the study were more likely to have a larger Web presence.
Prahba and Irwin also looked at the domains under which public libraries are hosted. They found a near 50/50 split between libraries that use location-indicative domains (for example, the URL http://www.hartshorne.lib.ok.us announces that the Hartshorne library is located in Oklahoma, U.S.A.) and host-type do-mains (such as .org, .com, and .gov). Sixty-eight percent of the libraries surveyed hosted their own Web sites, 19 percent had the hosting done by their parent institutions (such as a municipal or county government), and 12 percent of library Web sites were hosted by commercial interests. A similar breakdown was found when Prahba and Irwin analyzed who designed public library Web sites—58 per-cent had the design done in-house, 11 percent at the system level, and parent and commercial organizations each accounted for 8 percent of locations for public library Web site design.
Impact of Public Access Computing
Public library technology was also the subject of a report titled “Legacy of Gates Foundation’s U.S. Library Program: Impacts of Public Access Computing Positive, Widespread” and released by the Public Access Computing Project at the University of Washington, detailed in a Library Journal article. The most salient finding suggested that library computers are providing an important resource for low-income patrons. In 18 focus-group states, 52 percent of library computer users had a household income of less than $25,000. By comparison, 30 percent of the total population in those states fell into the same income bracket. The study also found that more than half of library computer users use the Internet to stay in touch with family and friends. Amid the current trend for strong emphasis on library technology, one statistic from the study should make Luddites smile: 90 percent of patrons in the Public Access Computing Project said that books are the most important service at the library, with 82 percent asserting that books should be a library’s most important service. (See http://www.libraryjournal.com/article/ CA276674?display=searchResults&stt=001&text=gates+legacy.)
Public Library Statistics and the Web
During 2003 public library statistics that are collected at state and national levels, and the means by which they can be accessed and manipulated, continued to be transformed. The Federal-State Cooperative System (FSCS) for Public Library Data adopted several new data elements and changed some existing ones to begin capturing data about how electronic publishing is changing the nature of library collections (e.g., e-books, licensed databases). The Information Institute continued to encourage such developments by supporting national and international statistical standards revision and preparing to launch training programs to teach librarians how to collect and use new measures of networked resources and ser-vices. Significant progress was also made last year on the Public Library Geo-graphical Database project.
Public Library Statistics at NCES
The nation’s fiscal year (FY) 2003 data on public libraries will include a separate figure for expenditures on electronic materials, as well as counts of electronic books, databases, and current electronic serials. These new data elements will be collected for the first time in the summer of 2004. Publication of the annual report and release of the corresponding data file can be expected in mid-2005. As NCES is somewhat taken to task elsewhere in this article for its performance in turning around academic and school library statistical reports on a timely basis, it is only fair to offer richly deserved kudos to the agency on the issue of public library statistics. In June 2003 NCES released the FY 2001 E.D. TAB: Public Libraries in the United States report, based on a data collection that was concluded at the end of July 2002. (See http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo. asp?pubid=2003399.) That is a turnaround of only 11 months—the quickest release of such a report in the FSCS project’s 12-year publication history. Kudos is also due to the state data coordinators who met tighter-than-ever mid-2002 deadlines from NCES to submit their states’ 2001 data. Everyone involved was committed to raising the standard of public library data timeliness, and the collaborative effort worked. In addition to the E.D. TABS report, these data can also be searched and compared dynamically via NCES’s Public Library Locator (see http://nces.ed.gov/surveys/libraries/liblocator) and Peer Comparison Tool (see http://nces.ed.gov/surveys/libraries/publicpeer).
Bibliostat Access to FSCS and PLDS Data
In 2003 the vast majority of state library agencies collected data from public library administrative entities electronically, and 33 of those 50 agencies used Baker & Taylor’s Bibliostat Collect Web-based software. The fact that no other vendor is working with multiple states—certainly such a substantial majority of states—makes B&T’s Bibliostat products the “Microsoft Office” of public library statistics. Most of the non-Bibliostat states used homegrown software to conduct their surveys electronically. The states that conducted surveys on paper in 2003 were the ones with very small numbers of public libraries. (See http:// www.informata.com/img/collect1.pdf.) Bibliostat Connect, another Web-based product, provides the only dynamic, graphical access to data reported in the Public Library Association’s annual Public Library Data Service Statistical Report. (See http://www.informata.com/img/ connect.pdf.) In 2003 two dozen states licensed this product statewide for all public libraries. Those whose public libraries or state library agencies do not sub-scribe to Bibliostat Connect can, as ever, access PLDS data in print. The 2003 edition of that report includes triennial data from a special survey on children’s services in public libraries. That edition also provides data on “technology usage,” tracking the extent to which public libraries are now providing Web-based services. (See http://www.ala.org/ala/pla/plapubs/pldsstatreport/plds statistical.htm.)
Networked Services Statistics and the Information Institute at FSU
The Information Use Management and Policy Institute (Information Institute) at Florida State University continues its work on a 2002–2004 IMLS National Leadership Grant project, Librarian Education for the Collection, Analysis, and Use of Library Networked Services and Resources Statistics. (See http://www.ii. fsu.edu/getProjectDetail.cfm?pageID=8&ProjectID=4.) Information Institute principals John Carlo Bertot and Charles R. McClure have been known for their biennial surveys of public library Internet connectivity since 1994. By 2002 they were ready to turn their attention from developing consensus about such measures to teaching librarians and other library workers how to make such measures a practical reality. In 2003 activities associated with this project included
- Supporting working groups for various statistical standards including NISO Z39.7 Library Statistics, ISO 2789 Library Statistics, and ISO 1620 Library Performance Indicators
- Identifying a core set of network statistics for public libraries to use locally and report annually to their state library agencies
- Developing and field-testing training modules
These training sessions will begin to be offered in 2004.
In addition to continuing their long-running role in developing statistics for networked services, Bertot and McClure and their Information Institute colleagues also conducted policy research about the ramifications for public libraries of the USA Patriot Act and the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA). Initial findings from this research was scheduled to appear in two early 2004 Information Institute reports as well as two forthcoming 2004 articles by institute researchers. Watch for these reports at http://www.ii.fsu.edu/publications.cfm.
In June 2003 McClure and Bertot released an update of previous research on public library use of the E-rate. (See http://www.ii.fsu.edu/getProjectDetail.cfm? pageID=9&ProjectID=17.)
Public Library Geographic Database and the GeoLib Program at FSU
FSU’s GeoLib Program, partnering with the Information Institute, created the Public Library Geographic Database (Koontz et al., 2002). This Web-accessible database provides a digital map of U.S. public library outlets and boundary files for public library administrative entities whose jurisdictions conform to existing political geography (e.g., municipalities, counties). Though these map layers were produced using geographic information systems (GIS), they are made avail-able— and can be manipulated, copied, and e-mailed—via a user-friendly, Web-based mapping interface. This project—the brainchild of GeoLib Director Christie M. Koontz—is being positively received by many state library agencies and public libraries, particularly ones in major metropolitan areas, such as Baltimore County, Maryland. This project is funded by a 2002–2004 National Leadership Grant for research and demonstration. (See http://www.geolib.org/ projects.cfm and http://www.ii.fsu.edu/getProjectDetail.cfm?pageID=8&Project ID=3.)
Interest in studying the impact of school libraries on students continues unabated. Indeed, 2003 was a bumper-crop year. Six state studies—from five different teams of researchers—were published. The 11th Treasure Mountain school library research retreat illuminated many of the issues now being addressed by studies that began in 2003, but for which reports have not yet been released. Through the efforts of several researchers (including Carol Kuhlthau, David Loertscher, and Ross Todd), a new line of more-qualitative school library impact studies has been established, focusing on how school librarians and libraries make a difference at the building level. This new line of research is a long-over-due complement to the quantitative studies based on the “Colorado” model. A special hallmark of the year was the opening of a new research center at Rutgers University, the Center for International Scholarship in School Libraries (CISSL), under the co-directorship of Carol Kuhlthau and Ross Todd. (See http://www. cissl.scils.rutgers.edu/news_and_events/cisslopening.htm.)
School Library Impact Studies
Each of the state studies on school library impact yielded valuable findings. Following is a state-by-state summary. For links to online information about each of the following studies, as well as previous and forthcoming school library impact studies, visit http://www.LRS.org/impact.asp.
Florida—In late 2003 Donna Baumbach published Making the Grade: The Status of School Library Media Centers in the Sunshine State and How They Contribute to Student Achievement. At most grade levels, higher reading scores tended to be associated with higher circulation of books and other materials and more extensive school wide access to computers providing access to library catalogs and licensed databases. But, as in most states that have undertaken such studies, the most noteworthy school library factor linked with higher student achievement levels is a well-staffed library. Among Florida elementary schools, libraries with 60 or more weekly hours of library staff reported 20 percent higher reading scores than schools with less well-staffed libraries. Likewise, among the state’s high schools, libraries staffed 60 or more hours a week averaged reading scores that were more than 22 percent higher than for schools with fewer library staff. This study was the result of a collaboration involving the University of Central Florida, the Florida Department of Education, and the Florida Association for Media in Education (FAME).
Minnesota—In January 2003 Metronet, a multi-type cooperative serving libraries in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, published Check It Out! The Results of the School Library Media Program Census. Under contract to Metronet, Yi Du, research director for Edina Public Schools, found that reading scores tend to improve with the hours worked by school librarians and the dollars spent on school libraries. At all grade levels, schools with full-time librarians (i.e., 36 or more hours a week) were twice as likely to score above average on state reading tests as schools with part-time librarians.
Michigan—In mid-2003 Rodney, Lance, and Hamilton-Pennell published The Impact of Michigan School Librarians on Academic Achievement: Kids Who Have Libraries Succeed, a study conducted for the Library of Michigan and for which data were provided by the Michigan Department of Education. Like other studies following the “Colorado” model, this one found that the impact of well-staffed, well-stocked, and well-funded school libraries cannot be explained away by other powerful school and community conditions, such as the teacher-pupil ratio, per-pupil school spending, adult educational attainment, or—most notably— poverty. The test score gains of schools with librarians over those without librarians ranged from 35 percent for elementary schools to 9 percent for high schools.
Missouri—In March the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Missouri State Library released Show Me Connection: How School Library Media Center Services Impact Student Achievement. Prepared by contractor Quantitative Resources, this study linked higher student achievement with school libraries that are flexibly scheduled, frequently used by students, and involved in summer reading programs. Like similar studies, it also found that higher test scores tend to be earned by students at schools whose libraries are professionally staffed, well-stocked with books and other materials, and well-funded.
New Mexico—In How School Libraries Improve Outcomes for Children: The New Mexico Study, Lance, Rodney, and Hamilton-Pennell found that despite the overwhelming negative impact of high poverty and low adult educational attainment, high school libraries alone accounted for 8 percent of variation in state achievement scores. This study was jointly funded by the New Mexico State Library and the McCune Foundation.
North Carolina— An Essential Connection: How Quality School Library Media Programs Improve Student Achievement in North Carolina, by Robert Burgin and Pauletta Brown Bracy (2003), found that scores on standardized tests of reading and English tended to improve when school libraries were staffed and open more hours per week, stocked with newer books, and funded to purchase more print and electronic resources. Across all grade levels, this study found that schools with better-staffed libraries had 9 percent higher test scores than schools with poorly staffed libraries. Similarly, schools with better-funded collections had 5 percent higher test scores than schools with poorly funded collections. The study was funded by the North Carolina Library Association and supported by the State Library of North Carolina, the North Carolina School Library Association, and the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction.
Treasure Mountain 11
The 11th Treasure Mountain retreat for school library researchers—which pre-ceded the American Association of School Librarians National Conference in Kansas City, Missouri—focused on the theme “Evidence-Based Practice.” Two of the speakers were Ross Todd and Keith Curry Lance. (See http://www.davidvl. org/tm11.html.)
“TM11” began with Todd’s keynote address, “Transitions for Preferred Futures of School Libraries: Knowledge Space, Not Information Place; Connections, Not Collections; Actions, Not Positions; Evidence, Not Advocacy.” He made a strong case for evidence-based practice as the only viable approach for school librarians today and in the future. To survive, he recommended, school librarians must practice their profession in ways validated by the field’s research and their own reflective experience, document their own impact on the teaching/learning process, and share this information on an ongoing basis with other educational practitioners and decision-makers. (For an earlier version of this presentation, see http://www.iasl-slo.org/virtualpaper2001.html.)
Todd practices what he preaches. With Carol Kuhlthau, he is completing the report on a 2003 study modeling these principles, “Student Learning Through Ohio School Libraries.” Utilizing survey results and critical-incident reports from huge samples—hundreds of teachers and many thousands of students—they are answering deeper questions about how school librarians and libraries make the difference quantified in previous studies. (See http://www.cissl.scils.rutgers.edu/ news_and_events/pressrelease.htm.)
Rutgers-based CISSL, co-directed by Kuhlthau and Todd, recently won a 2003 IMLS National Leadership Grant to develop—and to train school librarians to use—a Student Learning Impact Measurement (SLIM) packet, a set of instruments and procedures for tracking and assessing student learning through the school library. (See http://www.sls.lib.il.us/consulting/news/thewidewindow/ archives/000581.html.)
Scientifically Based Research
In another general session, Lance, author of the Colorado studies and several subsequent studies in other states, discussed “Scientifically Based Research on the Impact of School Libraries on Academic Achievement.” He contrasted the current administration’s narrow definition of “scientifically based research”— defining it, exclusively, as controlled randomized trials—with the broader definition presented in the National Research Council treatise Scientific Research in Education. He reviewed the history of recent school library impact research as well as research in progress to demonstrate how the range of quantitative and qualitative methodologies previously utilized, and being utilized, by school library researchers is, indeed, “scientific” in the true sense of that term. An article based on this presentation will appear during 2004 in both the print and online editions of Knowledge Quest. Watch for it online at http://www.ala.org/ ala/aasl/aaslpubsandjournals/knowledgequest/currissue/currentissue.htm.
Another highlight of the event was the introduction of a new software pack-age, the Excel-based Impact: Documenting the Library Media Program for Assessment. Developer and author Nancy A. S. Miller demonstrated the package, which enables school librarians to track the contribution of a library media center (LMC) program in three essential areas: collaborative planning, information literacy, and links to state standards. The software not only facilitates the collection of critical data but also generates presentation-quality graphic reports. (See “What’s New” or the catalog at http://www.lmcsource.com.)
School Library Statistics at NCES
Unlike academic and public libraries, school libraries have no regular, reliable, and timely source of truly national statistical reports and data files. While the Research and Statistics on Libraries and Librarianship in 2003 / 407 major associations for academic libraries (ARL, ACRL) and public libraries (the Public Library Association) generate statistics annually, or at least every two years, the only major school library association, the American Association of School Librarians (AASL), does not have a similar project. This leaves school libraries with only one possible source of truly comprehensive, national data: NCES. If academic library statistics have a lower priority at NCES, school library statistics have the lowest priority. At this writing (late January 2004), the latest full report on school library statistics was for the 1993–1994 school year; a decade old. A survey was conducted during the 1999–2000 school year, but no report was forthcoming in 2003. (See http://nces.ed.gov/surveys/libraries/school.asp.)
During 2003, the closest thing to an up-to-date source of school library statistics was the School Library Journal (SLJ) subscribers survey that has been conducted by Marilyn Miller and Marilyn Shontz since 1983. [For the full Miller/ Shontz report, see “Expenditures for Resources in School Library Media Centers” later in Part 4—Ed.]
Unlike for public libraries, most state library agencies are not charged to collect statistics on school libraries. As a result, only a handful of states report such statistics on any regular schedule. A few states have conducted one-time surveys as part of the research projects discussed above.
Suffice it to say that, as a result, there was a notable dearth of data on school libraries during 2003. Considering the threats to school librarians’ jobs, budgets, and facilities, the lack of timely, relevant statistics puts them and other school library advocates at an enormous disadvantage.
Online Information and Libraries
Two organizations, OCLC and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS),continue to play prominent roles in research about the importance of online information in libraries of all types.
The OCLC Office of Research continues to pursue research associated with three pairs of related themes:
- Metadata management and knowledge organization
- Content management and management intelligence
- Systems and interface design and interoperability
Metadata management and knowledge organization—It is important to improve metadata continuously, as its effective management is essential to organizing knowledge. During 2003 OCLC researchers contributed to the understanding of metadata management and knowledge organization by exploring the concept of a work, the division of labor in creating metadata, developments in the relationship between cataloging and metadata, adaptation of Library of Congress subject vocabulary to facilitate automated searching, and the relative merits of alternative educational metadata schema for expediting indexing of and access to learning objects for their designers, teachers, and learners. (See http://www.oclc.org/research.)
Content management and management intelligence—Managing content in electronic formats is one of the greatest challenges facing libraries and other information agencies—one that requires intelligence about how it is being met now and how it can be met in the future. During 2003 OCLC researchers developed new insights about content management and generated management intelligence useful to OCLC and its client organizations by studying trends in the evolution of the public Web, the developing market for electronic books and their relationship to print books, common issues faced in digitizing special collections, the imperative and incentives to preserve digital materials, and the presence and use of the Web in public libraries.
Systems and Interface Design and Interoperability—Designing systems for optimal computer-human interaction as well as interoperability between systems is yet another major set of challenges facing the developers of digital information resources. During 2003 OCLC researchers advanced the issues of systems and interaction design and interoperability by investigating alternative paths to inter-operable metadata, cross-language applications, and the status of two key projects, the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative and the Open Archives Initiative’s Protocol for Metadata Harvesting.
In September 2003 OCLC was awarded a 2003 National Leadership Grant to pursue further research on systems and interface design. According to the announcement on the OCLC Web site, “the award supports a research project . . . on why and how people use electronic information and how system design features affect use and usability.”
Several projects funded by the IMLS National Leadership Grant program have already been identified and discussed above, but the agency plays a particularly strong role in research about the importance of online information in libraries.
In late 2002 IMLS issued a press release seeking proposals to conduct a national study of users and potential users of online information. A research and demonstration grant to conduct this study was awarded to the Sara Fine Institute for Interpersonal Behavior and Technology at the University of Pittsburgh. The two-year study, which began in September 2003, will “provide insights into users’ information needs and expectations, their preferences for access modes and information content, and their experiences with using information online.” (See the grant award under “University of Pittsburgh” at http://www.imls.gov/ results.asp?keyword=&inst=&city=&state=0&year=8&program=gt_1006& description=on&sort=year.)
In addition to that project and the CISSL and OCLC projects described above, IMLS also made a 2003 National Leadership Grant for research and demonstration to the University of Rochester, River Campus, to study “gray literature” (theses, proceedings, technical standards). This study will answer questions about who uses this literature and how to identify, locate, and store it electronically. Three additional research and demonstration grants were made in 2003, but they were for demonstration-only projects that do not involve substantial research and that might have been more appropriately funded as preservation or digitization projects. Considering the limited funding available for library and information science research, it is regrettable that this category of IMLS funding is not limited to research projects, whether or not they involve a demonstration component. As it is, the category would be more accurately titled research or demonstration.
Rather than redirecting research and demonstration funds to demonstration-only projects—a practice that simply supplements funds otherwise available for preservation or digitization projects—the agency could establish research priorities that elicit proposals to conduct research about pressing issues related to digitization efforts. In September 2003 the Florida Center for Automation released an IMLS-supported “Report of the Workshop on Opportunities for Research on the Creation, Management, Preservation and Use of Digital Content.” This report identifies three digital-content issues on which research is relatively scarce, though clearly needed: the integration of physical and digital experiences, knowledge organization, and digital preservation.
In 2002 Project COUNTER (Counting Online Usage of Networked Electronic Resources), a British-based initiative to facilitate consensus about usage statistics among electronic publishers, went international. Several key U.S. and U.S.-based organizations support this project. Prominent among those organizations are ARL, the Association of American Publishers (AAP), the National Commission on Libraries and Information Science (NCLIS), and the National Information Standards Organization (NISO). According to a late 2002 survey of librarians, the two types of reports they wanted most were full-text requests by month by journal, and total database sessions and searches by month
By October 2003, majorities of the 13 participating vendors were providing these—or even more detailed—COUNTER-compliant reports. The participating vendors include several prominent publishers: Blackwell, EBSCO, Elsevier, HighWire, and ISI, just to name a few. Perhaps the rapid success of COUNTER indicates that the time has finally come for publishers of electronic resources to provide the kinds of data that library decision-makers have been dreaming of for over a decade. (See http://www.projectcounter.org.)
Mary Jo Lynch
In December 2003 Mary Jo Lynch retired as director of the ALA Office for Re-search and Statistics. She had served in the position since 1978.
Besides being the resident researcher and statistician at ALA Headquarters in Chicago, Lynch helped to design a successful library planning process. In the late 1980s, she coauthored two landmark publications in the now-legendary PLA Public Library Development Program: Planning and Role-Setting for Public Libraries and Output Measures for Public Libraries.
At about the same time, she began to play a leading role in the development of the U.S. library statistics infrastructure that exists today.
- “How many Internet computers are available in U.S. public libraries to help close the ‘Digital Divide’ between the information ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’?”
- “How many of the nation’s college and university libraries support distance education programs as well as traditional ones?”
- “How many school libraries are run by that endangered species: the fully credentialed, professional school librarian?”
And, last but not least,
- “How many people who work in state library agencies owe their employment to library statistics?”
Florida State University’s Information Institute and Beta Phi Mu, the Inter-national Library and Information Studies Honor Society, have established a Distinguished Lecture Award in honor of Lynch’s outstanding contributions to and support of library and information science research. (See http://www.ii.fsu.edu/ getAnn.cfm?pageID=5&annID=11.)
Awards and Grants that Honor and Support Excellent Research
The professional library associations offer many awards and grants to recognize and encourage research. The 2003 awards and grants here are listed under the name of the sponsoring association, and in the case of ALA by the awarding division, in alphabetical order. More-detailed information about the prizes and prize-winners can be found at the association Web sites.
American Library Association
Carroll Preston Baber Research Grant
Winners: Lynne McKechnie and Pamela McKenzie, University of Western Ontario, for “The Young Child/Caregiver Storytime Program as Information Ground.”
Jesse H. Shera Award for Excellence in Published Research
Winners: George D’Elia, Corinne Jorgensen, Joseph Woelfel, and Eleanor Jo Rodger, for “The Impact of the Internet on Public Library Use: An Analysis of the Current Consumer Market for Library and Internet Services,” J ournal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 53 (10): 802–820, 2002.
American Association of School Librarians (AASL)
AASL/Highsmith Research Grant
Winner: Bonnie Grimble, Carmel (Indiana) High School, for her proposed study “Teachers’ Perspectives and Influence on Use of Electronic Resources in the High School Media Center.”
Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL)
ACRL/ISI Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship
Winner: Yung-Rang Laura Cheng, Ph.D. candidate at Indiana University, for her proposal “Thoughts, Feelings and Actions: Quantitative Comparisons of Interactions and Relationships Among Three Factors in College Students’ Information Seeking.”
Samuel Lazerow Fellowship for Research in Collections and Technical Services in Academic and Research Libraries
Winners: Katharine Farrell, head, order division, Princeton University, and Marc Truitt, head, library systems, University of Notre Dame, for their proposal to develop standards for acquisitions data in integrated library systems.
Coutts Nijhoff International West European Specialist Study Grant
Winner: Michael Olson, Harvard University, for “Two Libraries, Two Peoples: Die Deutsche Bibliothek and Die Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin since German Reunification.”
Library and Information Technology Association/OCLC
Frederick G. Kilgour Award for Research in Library and Information Technology Winner: Herbert Van de Sompel, Los Alamos National Laboratories, whose re-search has contributed significantly to two major current developments in the field: linking technologies and metadata harvesting.
American Society for Information Science and Technology
ASIS&T Research Award
Winner: Peter Ingwersen, Research Professor, Department of Information Studies, Royal School of Library and Information Science, Copenhagen, for an outstanding research contribution in the field of information science.
ASIS&T ProQuest Doctoral Dissertation Award
Winner: Anne Diekema, Syracuse University, for “Translation Events in Cross-Language Information Retrieval: Lexical Ambiguity, Lexical Holes, Vocabulary Mismatch, and Correct Translations.”
ASIS&T/ISI Doctoral Dissertation Proposal Scholarship
Winner: Jiangping Chen, Syracuse University, for her proposed research topic and methodology investigating two problems associated with English-Chinese cross-language information retrieval (EC-CLIR).
ISI/ASIS&T Citation Analysis Research Grant
Winner: Rong Tang, Catholic University of America. The grant supports either research proposals or research under way that is based on citation analysis, including but not limited to analyses using resources developed by the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI).
Association for Library and Information Science Education
Eugene Garfield/ALISE Doctoral Dissertation Award
Winner: Karen Frances Gracy, UCLA, for “The Imperative to Preserve: Competing Definitions of Value in the World of Film Preservation,” 2001.
OCLC/ALISE Research Grants
Winners: Abby A. Goodrum, School of Information Studies, Syracuse University, for her study “Image Intermediation: Visual Resource Reference Services for Digital Libraries”; Rebecca Green, College of Information Studies, University of Maryland, for her project “Vocabulary Alignment via Basic Level Concepts”; Joseph Janes, Information School, University of Washington, for his project “The Thank You Study: User Satisfaction with Digital Reference Service.”
Research Grant Award
Winners: Elizabeth Yakel, Michigan, and Jeannette Bastian, Simmons, for “To-wards the Identification of an Archival Core Curriculum.”
Medical Library Association (MLA)
Donald A. B. Lindberg Research Fellowship Winner: Catherine Arnott Smith, Assistant Professor, School of Information Studies, Syracuse University, received the first Donald A. B. Lindberg Research Fellowship. The fellowship supports research aimed at expanding the knowledge-base that links the information services provided by librarians to improved health care and advances in biomedical research. Smith’s research seeks to gain a better understanding of “consumer vocabulary,” the language used by consumers to express their health information needs.
Special Libraries Association
Steven I. Goldspiel Memorial Research Grant
Winners: Linda C. Smith and Lian Ruan for their proposal “A Survey to Support ‘Evidence-Based Practice’ in Special Libraries Servicing Fire Service Personnel and Researchers in Public Safety and Homeland Security Areas.”