Collection Evaluation and Assessment

With libraries having more limited funds, there is increasing interest in ensuring that these funds are used effectively. Given that resources are a key service provided by libraries, librarians may wish to look at their collections more carefully. However, few librarians have implemented a formal and routine method of evaluating their collections. Furthermore, while there have been some recent developments in collection evaluation methods, notably peer comparison tools, many of the measures of evaluation have not changed in the last fifty years. Finally, there is little consensus on what these measures mean or what they reveal about a collection.

In this e-forum, we discussed differences between evaluation and assessment, definitions and measures of quality in a collection, methods, measures and tools used to evaluate the collection, and what these measures actually mean--big-picture ideas as well as nitty-gritty details.

Find a summary of the discussion in the ALCTS News.


Karen R. Harker is Collection Assessment Librarian at the University of North Texas (UNT) Libraries. She earned her MLS from Texas Woman's University in 1999, and her MPH from University of Texas School of Public Health in 2007. Prior to joining UNT Libraries, Karen was librarian at University of Texas Southwestern Medical School for ten years, followed by a short stint as biostatistician for a clinical study. She is currently revising the collection assessment plan for the UNT Libraries, with the goal of evaluating all subject collections regularly.

Pat Reese is a Science Librarian at the University of North Texas with liaison duties to the Departments of Psychology, Speech & Hearing Sciences, and Behavior Analysis. She earned her MS in Medical Libraries from the University of North Texas in 2000. With a background in Medical Technology and Medical Records she enjoys working in the more clinical side of her subject areas. Her goal is to develop the best collections possible in her assigned areas.


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